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UFC champions history: Featherweight

UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway at the UFC

UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway at the UFC 223 news conference at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on April 4, 2018. Credit: Mark La Monica

The UFC established its featherweight division at the end of 2010 after absorbing the WEC and folding it into the UFC. Follow the path of the UFC’s 145-pound championship belt.

Jose Aldo

Successful title defenses: 7

Jose Aldo was the reigning WEC champion when the UFC absorbed it and created its featherweight division. Aldo was installed as the champion. The Brazilian defended his title successfully seven times in five years, defeating the likes of Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes (twice), Frankie Edgar, Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas. Between the WEC and UFC, Aldo was a champion for more than six years.

Conor McGregor

Successful title defenses: 0

For all his talk and antics and "Mystic Mac" predictions, Conor McGregor did exactly what he said he would do. And he did it in a glorious, record-breaking way. McGregor knocked out Aldo with one punch 13 seconds into their fight at UFC 194 on Dec. 12, 2015. It was the fastest finish in a UFC championship bout in the promotion's history, besting Ronda Rousey's record of 14 seconds set earlier that year. McGregor entered that fight as the interim featherweight champion.

Jose Aldo

Successful title defenses: 0

In 350 days as featherweight champion, Conor McGregor failed to defend his belt. Instead, he fought Nate Diaz twice at welterweight before winning the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez in November. In the meantime, an interim featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar was held at UFC 200, a bout Aldo won via unanimous decision. Aldo and McGregor were expected to unify the title at some point in the future, but when the UFC 206 main event fell through on short notice, it triggered a chain reaction that led to McGregor vacating the belt on Nov. 26, 2016. With McGregor focusing on lightweight, Aldo was promoted to champion and an interim title fight between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis was named the new headliner at UFC 206.

Max Holloway

Successful title defenses: 3

After securing the interim title against an overweight Anthony Pettis in December 2016, Max Holloway set off to Aldo's hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Aldo was intent on reclaiming his dominance over the division he ruled for half a decade, but Holloway started the "Blessed" era in commanding fashion, rolling through Aldo with a third-round TKO. The Hawaiian was expected to face former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar for his first title defense late in 2017, but an Edgar injury put Aldo back in the title picture. The rematch went just as well for Holloway, who again won via TKO at UFC 218. Holloway was slated to face Brian Ortega in July 2018, but the fight was delayed until December after Holloway experienced concussion-like symptoms. When he finally returned, "Blessed" maintained his place among the sport's elite, finishing Ortega via doctor stoppage in the fourth round and setting a UFC 145-pound record with 15 victories in the division. Holloway defended his belt a third time by winning a unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 240 on July 27, 2019.

Alexander Volkanowski

Volkanovski controlled the bout against Holloway with leg kicks and movement, winning a unanimous decision at UFC 245 to take the title on Dec. 14, 2019. The judges scored it 48-47, 48-47, 50-45. 

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