On Saturday inside Houston’s Toyota Center, the UFC interim heavyweight title will be on the line when top-five talents Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane go to war in the main event of UFC 265. However, this won’t be the first occurrence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship putting interim gold up for grabs in the 265-pound division. It’s not even the second or third time, but actually the sixth instance of this temporary championship being contested.
Watch every UFC interim heavyweight title fight finish
More than any other division, the heavyweight class has had a tumultuous history at the top, and interim titles have been a consistent means to keep the title picture moving when a champion is unavailable for various reasons. Be it injuries, sickness, or in the case of Randy Couture in 2008, a contract dispute.
The first instance of an interim title being on the line came in 2005 at UFC 51 when Andre Arlovski and Tim Sylvia competed for the belt when then-champion Frank Mir was sidelined after a serious motorcycle accident. Sylvia would also participate in the second interim heavyweight title fight at UFC 81 three years later against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He was the first of three men to compete in multiple interim heavyweight title fights.
Nogueira would be the only man to attempt to defend interim gold when he lost to Mir by technical knockout at UFC 92 in the winter of 2008. Mir would also take part in his second interim title bout two years later when he fell to the 265-pound colossus that was Shane Carwin at UFC 111. Oddly enough, both Mir and Carwin’s victories led to showdowns with lineal heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, and both men would fall to the former World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion.
The most recent occurrence of an interim heavyweight title matchup came in 2014 when former Pride Fighting Championship veterans Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt battled for the title at UFC 180. The Brazilian would win that matchup and then move on to become the unified heavyweight king with a submission win over Cain Velasquez seven months later. Now, you can watch highlights of those historic moments in the embedded video produced by the UFC.
Before the sixth instance of a UFC interim heavyweight title is contested on August 7 exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view (US $69.99), tell us what was your favorite interim title fight was?