Skip to main content
A detail shot of Khabib Nurmagomedov's belt after he announces his retirement in the Octagon after his victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Flashback: Vacant Title Fights | UFC 280

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev Will Feature A Title Fight For The Vacant UFC Lightweight Belt, But Before Then We Break Down Vacant Title Fights Of The Past, Some Of Which Leading To The Most Revered Championship Reigns

On October 22, 2022, former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira meets Islam Makhachev in UFC 280’s main event live from Abu Dhabi. They will compete for the vacant lightweight title stripped from Oliveira after he failed to weigh-in at, or under, the 155-pound limit prior to his bout against Justin Gaethje in May.

As we approach a month away from the highly anticipated bout, we break down several pivotal vacant title fights, some of which have led to eras regarded as the most revered championship reigns the UFC has seen. | Order UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev Today!

Matt Hughes vs Georges St-Pierre

On October 22, 2004, Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre fought to determine the fifth UFC welterweight champion, a title left vacant by BJ Penn. Hughes reclaimed the title of champion, which he had previously held for 820 days with five title defenses, which he preserved for another 757 days across two title defenses. At welterweight, Matt Hughes’s combined reigns lasted for more than 1,500 days, with seven title defenses.

Matt Hughes Hands GSP His First Loss

BJ Penn vs Joe Stevenson

On January 19, 2008, BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson fought for the UFC lightweight championship title, left vacant by Sean Sherk. Penn defeated Stevenson with a second-round submission coming by way of rear naked choke to claim the title of UFC lightweight champion. Penn, the third-ever UFC lightweight champion, went on to defend his title three times during a reign which lasted 812 days.

Rewind to UFC 80: BJ Penn vs Joe Stevenson

Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson

Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson face off in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 187 event

Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson face off in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 187 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


On May 23, 2015, Daniel Cormier secured a third-round submission victory via rear naked choke over Anthony Johnson to claim the UFC light heavyweight title left vacant by Jon Jones. Cormier went on to defend this title three times during a reign that lasted 1,315 days. Cormier then vacated the belt after defeating Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title, becoming the second-ever champion to hold belts in two UFC weight classes simultaneously, on July 7, 2018.

Watch Cormier vs Johnson at UFC 187

Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger

On July 29, 2017, Cris Cyborg faced Tonya Evinger for the UFC women’s featherweight title left vacant by Germaine de Randamie. Cyborg defeated Evinger by way of third-round TKO and went on to defend her championship title twice over the course of 517 days before losing the belt to the current champion, Amanda Nunes.

RELATED: Run It Back To UFC 214 With Cyborg vs Evinger

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta

Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates after a dominating performance over Al Iaquinta in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 223 event

Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates after a dominating performance over Al Iaquinta in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 223 event inside Barclays Center on April 7, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


On April 7, 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision to become the 10th UFC lightweight champion, a spot left vacant by both Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov defended his title three times over the course of nearly 1,100 days before retiring as one of the all-time greats, with a final mixed martial arts record of 29-0.

The Reign of Khabib Begins: Watch On UFC Fight Pass

Valentina Shevchenko vs Joanna Jędrzejczyk

On December 8, 2018, Valentina Shevchenko defeated former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk by way of unanimous decision to win the UFC flyweight championship left vacant by Nicco Montaño. Shevchenko has now defended that belt seven times, most recently defeating Taila Santos at UFC 275 in June.

Flashback To Shevchenko vs Joanna At UFC 231

Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes

Henry Cejudo celebrates his TKO victory over Marlon Moraes of Brazil in their bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 238 event

Henry Cejudo celebrates his TKO victory over Marlon Moraes of Brazil in their bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 238 event at the United Center on June 8, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


On June 8, 2019, Henry Cejudo moved up to bantamweight to challenge Marlon Moraes for the UFC bantamweight title, which was left vacant by TJ Dillashaw. Cejudo defeated Moraes by way of TKO with just nine seconds remaining in the third round to become the fourth-ever fighter to hold UFC championships at two weights simultaneously. Cejudo defended his bantamweight title once over the course of nearly a year, before announcing his retirement following his title defense victory over Dominick Cruz.

Rewatch UFC 238: Cejudo vs Moraes

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

On July 12, 2020, Petr Yan was matched to face José Aldo for the vacant UFC bantamweight title left open by Henry Cejudo. Yan defeated Aldo with a fifth-round TKO, with just over 90 seconds remaining in the fight. No longer champion after his disqualification loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259, Yan will face UFC superstar Sean O'Malley at UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev.

Relive UFC 251 With Yan vs Aldo On UFC Fight Pass 

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Joseph Benavidez

Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil celebrates after defeating Joseph Benavidez in their UFC flyweight championship bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island

Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil celebrates after defeating Joseph Benavidez in their UFC flyweight championship bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 19, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


On July 19, 2020, Deiveson Figuriredo faced Joseph Benavidez for a second time to claim the vacant UFC flyweight title. The first time the two met, nearly five months prior, Figueiredo defeated Benavidez by way of TKO, but missed weight and was made ineligible to win the title. Figueiredo defeated Benavidez for the second time, by way of first-round technical submission, to claim the UFC flyweight title left vacant by Henry Cejudo.

Rewatch Figuriredo vs Benavidez 2

Jan Blachowicz vs Dominick Reyes

On September 27, 2020, Jan Blachowicz faced Dominick Reyes to claim the UFC light heavyweight crown left vacant by Jon Jones. Blachowicz defeated Reyes via second-round TKO. Nearly six months later, Blachowicz made his first successful title defense when he defeated Israel Adesanya, who moved up from middleweight to challenge Blachowicz for a second belt. The “Legendary Polish Power” handed “The Last Stylebender” his first loss in mixed martial arts, while successfully defending the UFC light heavyweight title.

Becoming "Legendary Polish Power" - Blachowicz vs Reyes

Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler

Charles Oliveira of Brazil runs to meet Michael Chandler in their lightweight championship bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center

(R-L) Charles Oliveira of Brazil runs to meet Michael Chandler in their lightweight championship bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)


On May 15, 2021, Charles Oliveira met Michael Chandler in the main event at UFC 262. Oliveira rode an eight-fight win streak coming into the bout, while Chandler only had one fight and one win in the UFC – a first round TKO against Dan Hooker.  They competed for the lightweight title, a belt vacated by UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov, who relinquished the belt after retiring from mixed martial arts in October 2020. In a back-and-forth fight, that saw Chandler on the cusp of finishing Oliveira in the first round, “Do Bronx” mounted an epic comeback, earning a TKO victory only 19 seconds into the second round.

Relive Oliveira's Title Winning Performance

Don't Miss A Moment Of UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev, Live From Etihad Arena In Abu Dhabi. Prelims Begin at 10am ET/7am PT, While The Main Card Kicks Off At 2pm ET/11am PT.