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
12 of 17

Brock Lesnar (2008-2010)

Grade: A-

There is no denying that Lesnar did not deserve to fight for the UFC title when he did. Lesnar faced three-time champion Randy Couture after going just 1-1 in the UFC and though gifted a title shot, his championship reign has to be respected.

Nobody was surprised when Lesnar essentially out-muscled a 45-year-old Couture to win the belt but his subsequent title defenses cemented his legacy as a legitimate MMA fighter. Any questions or skepticism fans had about the former WWE wrestler were put to rest with back to back impressive wins over Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.

Given the time of their meeting, Mir and Carwin were two of the best victories Lesnar could have added to his resume. Though years after suffering a life-altering motorcycle accident that diminished his fighting ability, Mir was still an elite heavyweight grappler whom many believed had more technical skills.

Carwin, meanwhile, was the opposite of Mir, a traditional heavy-hitting striker who entered the fight undefeated with eight wins by knockout. While Mir posed a threat to Lesnar's lack of Brazilian jiu-jitsu game, Carwin threatened the champion's durability and mental strength.

Twice turning back doubters, Lesnar finished both Mir and Carwin to improve to 3-0 in championship fights. In both matchups, Lesnar was hurt early before coming back to keep his title, changing the narrative that he would fade against pressure in a "real" fight.

Overall, Lesnar is far from the best MMA fighter to ever put on gloves. But in his title reign alone, few heavyweights in UFC history can match the two years Lesnar had.