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
6 of 17

Kevin Randleman (1999-2000)

Grade: B+

By the time Randleman officially claimed the belt in November 1999, many had already labeled him the "people's champion" under the belief that he wrongfully lost a decision to Bas Rutten six months prior. Randleman accomplished a lot as champion in the early days of the UFC and had he been given the decision over Rutten he could have earned an A as his work at the top made him the best heavyweight champion in promotional history to that point.

During his time as champion, Randleman did not set many records but did to that point hold the belt the longest of any titleholder in the UFC heavyweight division. Adding his title reign to the fact that he made his UFC debut with a win over former champion Maurice Smith, many strongly believed that Randleman was the best heavyweight in the world during his tenure.

As a wrestler, Randleman began his career at Ohio State University under then-coach Mark Coleman, making him the first heavyweight champion to serve as an essential successor to his coach. Randleman held a similar fighting style to Coleman, smothering opponents with pressure and strength, finishing a majority of his opponents by ground and pound.

After beating Pete Williams for the vacant title one fight after his controversial loss to Rutten, Randleman would defend the belt once against Pedro Rizzo. Two days shy of becoming the first heavyweight champion to hold the belt for one calendar year, Randleman would lose his status as champion to Randy Couture at UFC 28.

Attempting to follow a similar career path as Couture, Randleman dropped down to the light heavyweight division after losing the belt but could never find the same success. Regardless, his time as champion was enough to earn him a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame and was more than deserving of a passing grade.