The Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight Championship follows the weight guidelines set forth in the Uniform Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (maximum 155 lbs.).
The belt (originally referred to as the Bantamweight Championship) was first awarded to Jens Pulver at UFC 30 Battle on the Boardwalk after defeating Caol Uno by majority decision. After two successful title defenses, Pulver left the UFC (after failed contract negotiations) and was stripped of the title in March 2002.
Beginning at UFC 39 The Warriors Return in September 2002, the UFC held a four-person tournament to crown a new Lightweight Champion. In the first round, B.J. Penn defeated Matt Serra and Caol Uno bested Din Thomas. Penn and Uno faced off in the finals, contested at UFC 41 Onslaught in February 2003, but fought to a draw and the title remained vacant.
The title remained vacant for over four years, when Sean Sherk defeated Kenny Florian for the vacant championship. Sherk tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone after successfully defending the title against Hermes Franca at UFC 73 Stacked. Sherk appealed the one-year suspension levied by the California State Athletic Commission and the suspension was reduced to six months. Sherk, however, was stripped on the title in December 2007 after the appeal had been decided.
While the appeal was pending, the UFC had scheduled an Interim Lightweight title bout between B.J. Penn and Joe Stevenson. The bout, which was scheduled for January 2008, was elevated to a Lightweight title bout after Sherk was stripped of the championship.
Penn won the vacant title at UFC 80 Rapid Fire and had three successful title defenses before dropping the strap to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 Invincible in April 2010. Edgar defended his belt in a rematch with Penn later in the year.
Edgar didn’t leave UFC 125 Resolution a winner, but he left with his championship belt. Gray Maynard battered Edgar with a first-round beatdown, but Edgar survived and ultimately evened up the score with the judges, who scored a rousing five-round championship bout a disappointing draw. Judge Patricia Morse-Jarman scored it 47-47 with Edgar getting the second, third and fourth rounds. Glenn Trowbridge has it for Maynard (who got the first, third and fifth rounds), and Marcos Rosales had it for Edgar (with rounds two through five).
Edgar once again survived a first-round beatdown in the rematch in October 2011. This time, however, he did not let the fight get to the scorecards and stopped Maynard in the fourth round with a knockout due to punches.
In February 2012, Edgar defended the strap against Benson Henderson in the headliner of UFC’s return to Japan, UFC 144 Edgar vs Henderson. Once again, Edgar was involved in a controversial five-round decision, but this time Edgar was on the losing side of a unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47 and 49-46).
==UFC Lightweight Title History==
|Champion||Defeated for Title||Event||Defenses||Notes|
|”’Benson Henderson”’||Frankie Edgar||UFC 144 Edgar vs Henderson (February 25, 2012)|
|”’Frankie Edgar”’||B.J. Penn||UFC 112 Invincible (April 10, 2010)|
|”’B.J. Penn”’||Joe Stevenson||UFC 80 Rapid Fire (January 19, 2008)||For vacant Lightweight Championship|
|”’Sean Sherk”’||Kenny Florian||UFC 64 Unstoppable (October 14, 2006)||For vacant Lightweight Championship|
|”’Jens Pulver”’||Caol Uno||UFC 30 Battle on the Boardwalk (February 23, 2001)||For first-ever Lightweight Championship|