Who was the UFC's light heavyweight champion first?
One of the most illustrious divisions in the UFC has always been the light heavyweight division.
With father time always reigning undefeated and while the sport of mixed martial arts continues to evolve, some fight fans forget the past talented light heavyweight champions that held the title with so much pride since it was originally captured in 1997 for the very first time.
The amount of pioneers that have held the championship is endless. With names like Hall-of-Famers Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture enshrined in the history book, it’s hard not to have a tingly sense of nostalgia when thinking of the light heavyweight championship.
There is no denying that at times, Jon Jones’ reign as champion was controversial, but come fight night he had one of the most memorable and dominant reigns in the light heavyweight division. Jon Jones’ legacy as one of the greatest to ever step foot inside the Octagon, and with that, his achievements within the division as Light Heavyweight champion, began with none other than Frank Shamrock.
With the championship being called the “middleweight championship” at the time (it would be later named the light heavyweight title), the history books still have Shamrock as the very first man to sit on the light heavyweight throne as their king.
It took 16 seconds to crown a UFC light heavyweight champion
To crown a light heavyweight champion, the UFC traveled to Japan showcasing their PPV UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan on Dec. 21, 1997. Shamrock impressively submitted the undefeated Kevin Jackson in the very first round to capture UFC gold.
Shamrock would go on to defend his light heavyweight title four times before retiring from the up-and-coming sport, in what many fans thought was the prime of his career.
Since Shamrock became the first-ever champion in the division, there have been 15 men who have been etched in the sands of time.