A Current List of UFC Interim Champions

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MMA has borrowed a lot of things from boxing in its short life—things like weight classes, title fights and even the concept of an interim champion. The UFC first held an interim championship fight more than twenty years ago now in 2003 and ever since, they’ve sporadically brought in the concept when they felt necessary.

Below, we’ve outlined what an interim champion is, how the criteria to become one has changed at the hands of the UFC, a current list of UFC interim champions, every UFC Interim Champion in the company’s history and more.

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Who are the current UFC Interim Champions?

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At the time of writing, the only Interim Champion in the UFC is Tom Aspinall in the Heavyweight division, who won the belt when he stepped in to fight Sergei Pavolvich on short notice at UFC 295. The fight was made when Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones injured himself training to fight Stipe Miocic.

Even though Aspinall is the Interim Champion and should be the #1 contender, Dana White said that Jones and Stipe will likely fight next year and that he is open to Aspinall actually defending the Interim strap at some point.

What is an interim champion in the UFC?

A UFC Interim Champion is essentially a temporary champion who holds a belt that looks identical to the UFC Championship. Each weight class will typically have one champion, other than those that have an interim champion and the idea is to keep the division moving until the champion can become active once again.

Why does the UFC have interim champions?

Interim championships initially appeared in scenarios where the current champion of any given division was forced to sit out for a long time, likely due to an injury. The first ever UFC Interim Champion was Randy Couture, who beat Chuck Liddell at UFC 43 in 2003 and that interim title bout was set because then-champion Tito Ortiz was out for an extended period of time. Historically, if the interim champion couldn’t attempt to unify the belts by fighting the UFC champion anytime soon, they’d go on to truly be a placeholder champion in the division, defending the belt. A great example of this is Renan Barão, who won the interim belt when Dominick Cruz was forced out of action. He defended it twice before being promoted to the undisputed champion.

This was the justification for most interim title fights until this modern era of the UFC. Nowadays, the UFC believes that title fights add value to PPV events and so there’s some extra incentive for adding extra belts into the mix when possible. It only takes a champion being out for a shorter amount of time, or fighting in another weight class, for an interim championship fight to be booked today. It’s looked at these days as more of a #1 contender belt than anything and even if you’ve been watching the UFC for the best part of a decade, you’ll struggle to remember a time when this hasn’t been the case.

How have interim champions performed in title unification bouts in the UFC?

There have been 24 UFC Interim Champions in the company’s history, but of course that doesn’t mean there have been 24 title unification bouts. There have been circumstances where interim champions have been simply promoted to unified champions and even scenarios where interim champions have been stripped of their belts before they had the chance to unify.

There have been 15 title unification fights in UFC history and interim champions are 7-8 in those bouts.

A list of every UFC Interim Champion ever:


  • Andrei Arlovski (defeated Tim Sylvia at UFC 51)
  • Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (defeated Tim Sylvia at UFC 81)
  • Frank Mir (defeated Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92)
  • Shane Carwin (defeated Frank Mir at UFC 111)
  • Fabricio Werdum (defeated Mark Hunt at UFC 180)
  • Cyril Gane (defeated Derrick Lewis at UFC 265)
  • Tom Aspinall (defeated Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295)

Light Heavyweight

  • Randy Couture (defeated Chuck Liddell at UFC 43)
  • Jon Jones (defeated Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197)


  • Robert Whittaker (defeated Yoel Romero at UFC 213)
  • Israel Adesanya (defeated Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236)


  • Georges St. Pierre (defeated Matt Hughes at UFC 79)
  • Carlos Condit (defeated Nick Diaz at UFC 143)
  • Colby Covington (defeated Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 225)


  • Tony Ferguson (defeated Kevin Lee at UFC 216)
  • Dustin Poirier (defeated Max Holloway at UFC 236)
  • Justin Gaethje (defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249)


  • Conor McGregor (defeated Chad Mendes at UFC 189)
  • José Aldo (defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 200)
  • Max Holloway (defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 206)
  • Yair Rodríguez (defeated Josh Emmett at UFC 284)


  • Renan Barão (defeated Urijah Faber at UFC 149)
  • Petr Yan (defeated Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267)


  • Brandon Moreno (defeated Kai Kara-France at UFC 277)
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