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This weekend at UFC 258, Kamaru
Usman
will attempt to join some very exclusive company.

The 33-year-old Nigerian-American, who is set to face off with
Gilbert
Burns
as he defends his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight
belt for the third time, will pass future Hall-of-Famer Robbie
Lawler
and his two defenses if he succeeds. That will leave him
trailing only Tyron
Woodley
and Pat Miletich
(four), Matt Hughes
(seven) and Georges St.
Pierre
(nine) on the all-time list for title defenses in
perhaps MMA’s most historically competitive division.
Jon
Fitch
, Jake Shields,
Carlos
Condit
and Demian
Maia
.

Of course, that’s owing to welterweight’s primary charm: It is a
division historically ruled by dominant champions. Compared to the
sad-sack early years of the UFC’s lightweight and heavyweight
divisions, where nobody even seemed to want the belts, and in fact
multiple sitting champions bailed for greener pastures, 170 was put
in an immediate stranglehold by Miletich, who held the newly-minted
strap for almost three years. Ever since, it’s been more of the
same. While welterweight has its share of parity and weirdness, and
boasts two of the greatest championship upsets ever, it’s a
division where a man often gets the belt and spends a couple of
years turning away all comers.

Here is the 22-year history of the UFC welterweight title and the
times it was won, lost or defended. It tells the story of a
hyper-competitive, cutthroat division, one where to strap the belt
on your waist was to attach one of the sport’s largest bull’s eyes
to your back.

Ben
Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration


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