Grading every heavyweight champion in UFC history

The heavyweight division is in a bit of a stalemate as fans wait for the promotion to announce what it will do with Jon Jones, Stipe Miocic and Tom Aspinall.
Jul 7, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) celebrates beating Stipe Miocic (red
Jul 7, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) celebrates beating Stipe Miocic (red / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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Andrei Arlovski (2005-2006)

Grade: B+

It is unprecedented how Arlovski still manages to compete in the UFC in 2024 and though he is no longer close to the top of the division he was once a fan favorite top-five heavyweight.

Reflecting on his career, there is a possibility that many fans overrated Arlovski due to their hatred of Tim Sylvia. At the time of their simultaneous rise to the top of the UFC, Arlovski and Sylvia had developed a rivalry, one that Sylvia would ultimately win.

Arlovski never had the elite physique of a stereotypical fighter or the shiny undefeated record but had won most of his fights by knockout and looked to brawl more often than not, thus gaining affection from fans. Though he is credited with only one title defense against Paul Buentello, Arlovski held the interim championship for over a year while the UFC hoped for Frank Mir's return, causing him to complete a previous defense of the interim belt.

Dismally, Arlovski's status as champion would end the same way it started. One year after submitting Sylvia to win the interim belt, Arlovski would fall victim to the giant striker by first-round knockout despite hurting him early in the fight. The two would immediately run back a third fight giving Arlovski a chance to regain the belt but Sylvia would assert more dominance in the trilogy en route to a decision win.

It is difficult to gauge whether Arlovski over-achieved or under-achieved given his expectations and the circumstances of his awkward stint as champion but fans will always remember his career fondly.