First, a run-down of the particulars:

  • Due to potential metric conversion issues and weight class changes, a limit of 161 pounds is observed for this list.
  • Inception of the championship occurred on 1/13/1990, the first fight between two top fighters that resulted in a clear #1.
  • Sporadic periods of inactivity were observed throughout the first half of the lineage. Clear “top contender” matches took place to determine the next champion.

Your current lineal Lightweight champion is Conor McGregor

The full history is below. Note, the colored backgrounds indicate a title change.

MMA Lightweight Lineal Championship History

Date Champion Outcome Challenger Notes
1990-01-13 Yuichi Watanabe WIN Kazuhiro Sakamoto
1990-05-12 Yuji Ito WIN Yuichi Watanabe
1992-03-27 Tomohiro Tanaka WIN Yuji Ito
1992-07-23 Naoki Sakurada WIN Tomohiro Tanaka Sakurada leaves division.
1994-05-06 Yuki Nakai WIN Kyuhei Ueno Vacant title. Top-contender matchup.
1994-11-07 Yuki Nakai WIN Kazuhiro Kusayanagi
1995-01-21 Yuki Nakai WIN Hiroaki Matsutani Nakai leaves division.
1995-07-05 Wander Braga WIN Luiz Fraga Vacant title. Top-contender matchup.
1995-09-12 Wander Braga WIN Leandro Heck Gembo
1996-11-01 Wander Braga WIN Johnny Eduardo
1996-11-01 Wander Braga WIN Ailton dos Santos
1998-06-12 Wander Braga WIN Euclide Ourico
1998-06-12 Wander Braga WIN Marco Antonio
1998-06-12 Wander Braga WIN Milton de Castro Braga goes inactive.
2002-01-11 Jens Pulver WIN B.J. Penn Vacant title. Top-contender matchup.
2002-06-29 Jens Pulver WIN Robert Emerson
2003-01-25 Duane Ludwig WIN Jens Pulver
2003-04-25 Duane Ludwig WIN Genki Sudo Ludwig leaves Lightweight.
2005-09-25 Takanori Gomi WIN Tatsuya Kawajiri Vacant title. Top-contender matchup.
2005-12-31 Takanori Gomi WIN Hayato Sakurai
2006-04-02 Marcus Aurelio WIN Takanori Gomi
2006-06-04 Mitsuhiro Ishida WIN Marcus Aurelio
2006-08-26 Mitsuhiro Ishida WIN Cristiano Marcello
2006-11-05 Mitsuhiro Ishida WIN David Bielkheden
2006-12-31 Takanori Gomi WIN Mitsuhiro Ishida Gomi’s 2nd reign.
2007-02-24 Takanori Gomi NC Nick Diaz
2008-03-05 Takanori Gomi WIN Duane Ludwig
2008-08-24 Takanori Gomi WIN Seung Hwan Bang
2008-11-01 Sergey Golyaev WIN Takanori Gomi
2009-01-04 Eiji Mitsuoka WIN Sergey Golyaev
2009-08-02 Eiji Mitsuoka WIN Clay French
2009-11-07 Kazunori Yokota WIN Eiji Mitsuoka
2009-12-31 Tatsuya Kawajiri WIN Kazunori Yokota
2010-07-10 Shinya Aoki WIN Tatsuya Kawajiri
2010-09-25 Shinya Aoki WIN Marcus Aurelio
2010-10-24 Shinya Aoki WIN Yokthai Sithoar
2011-04-09 Shinya Aoki WIN Lyle Beerbohm
2011-05-29 Shinya Aoki WIN Rich Clementi
2011-09-24 Shinya Aoki WIN Rob McCullough
2011-12-31 Shinya Aoki WIN Satoru Kitaoka
2012-04-21 Eddie Alvarez WIN Shinya Aoki
2012-10-12 Eddie Alvarez WIN Patricky Freire
2013-11-02 Eddie Alvarez WIN Michael Chandler
2014-09-27 Donald Cerrone WIN Eddie Alvarez
2015-01-03 Donald Cerrone WIN Myles Jury
2015-01-18 Donald Cerrone WIN Ben Henderson
2015-05-23 Donald Cerrone WIN John Makdessi
2015-12-20 Rafael dos Anjos WIN Donald Cerrone
2016-07-07 Eddie Alvarez WIN Rafael dos Anjos  Eddie Alvarez’s second reign.
2016-11-12 Conor McGregor WIN Eddie Alvarez


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    1. Caposa May 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm Reply

      Just to clear things up, Uno-Barbosa was at 154 lbs (Shooto Welterweight), but it was a non-title bout. The proper lineage is is Uno-Barbosa —> Barbosa —> Mishima.

    2. Caposa May 1, 2014 at 11:47 am Reply

      When Braga went inactive in 1998 the next top contender match up at LW was Rumina Sato vs. Caol Uno in May of 1999.

      From there you can choose to ignore Uno’s loss to Marcio Ramos Barbosa (welterweight bout) which would lead to Uno-Pulver —> Pulver-Hallman —> Pulver-Penn

      If you count Uno’s loss to Barbosa, the lineal belt never touches the UFC. It goes:
      Sato-Uno —> Uno-Barbosa —> Barbosa-Mishima —> Mishima-Gomi —> Gomi-Hansen —> Hansen-Ribeiro —> Ribeiro-Kawajiri —> Kawajiri-Gomi —> and so on..

    3. Steve April 5, 2014 at 1:00 am Reply

      Well, I’d argue that Ludqig should’ve retained his lineal position because he returned to LW not too long after the Gomi Kawajiri fight. He next lost to Tyson Grifffin, who lost to Edgar, who lost to Maynard in their first fight. Edgar would win it back in the third fight with Maynard. From there on, the lineal title follows the UFC, making Pettis the rightful lineal champion.

    4. Ryu Hayabusa December 26, 2013 at 7:21 am Reply

      Alvarez vs Chandler II would be Alvarez’ second linear title defense. He seriously needs to go to the UFC so that finally all of the lineal championships can be unified with their respective UFC belt.

    5. Norman December 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm Reply

      Shouldn’t Alvarez’s match against Pitbull count as a defense?

    6. Nick April 27, 2012 at 10:54 am Reply

      It’s interesting how if Diaz/Gomi isn’t later ruled a no contest, it plays out like Diaz->Noons->Masvidal->Melendez.

    7. jcs February 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm Reply

      Because Ludwig left for over THREE YEARS, not to mention he lost twice during that span.

      Penn came back within two.

    8. Will February 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm Reply

      I don’t get how Ludwig moving up to WW then later fighting again at LW ends his reign in this list, but BJ Penn holds on to the linear WW title even after fighting at middleweight and heavyweight. Were you to follow it like that, it would go Ludwig —> Tyson Griffin —> Frankie Edgar —> Gray Maynard —> Frankie Edgar

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