Winning a UFC title puts you on top of the pile of the best MMA athletes in the world, but why does the UFC have two belts?
The UFC has two belts because one is the old style and one is the new style. The UFC changed their belt in 2019, champions who haven’t defended their title since then still hold the old style belt. Other UFC belts or titles you may hear of include Undisputed or Interim Champion, and The BMF title.
For a new fan of the UFC its fair to say that all of the different belts and titles could be confusing.
Let’s break it down.
UFC Belts: New Vs Old
In January 2019, the UFC introduced their new championship belt – The UFC Legacy Belt.
The new Legacy Belt was to replace the old belt and was set to be awarded to new champions and defending champions from 2019 and beyond.
The UFC said that the new belt was to “represent the new era of the UFC” following their 25th anniversary and was valued at three times more than the old classic belt – which had been in place for 17 years, from 2001 to 2018.
With the introduction of the new belt it is common to see UFC images and videos showing both the new and old-style belts. These do not represent anything different other than whether the champion has won or defended their title either before or after 2019.
What’s different with the new UFC belt?
The styles and design of each belt are the most obvious differences between the two belts – but other than that, there are also some other interesting features on the new belt which the old belt didn’t have.
- The new Legacy belt contains eight stones on the strap which will each be replaced with a red ruby for a successful title defence
- The date and location of each title defence will be engraved next to each red ruby
- Each champion will have their belt customized with their name, weight-class and their home country flag
- UFC champions will only get more than one belt if they become champion in more than one weight division
- There are eight flags on the belt which represent the first eight countries which were home to the fight eight UFC champions
- There are 25 white ruby stones on the face plate to represent 25 years of the UFC
- The UFC logo on the new belt is made of high-polished real gold
- The new belt has the roman numerals “MCMXCIII” on the front to represent 1993 – the year the UFC started
- The women’s new UFC belt is slightly smaller than the men’s – but other than that, is identical in every other way
Although the new belt has a lot of cool new features that the old belt didn’t, it still represents a fighter’s status as being the champion of their weight division – same as the old classic belt did.
Undisputed Vs Interim Champion
There are two types of championship titles in the UFC – undisputed champion and interim champion (the undisputed champion is usually referred to just as ‘the champion’)
What does C and IC mean? The UFC champion and the UFC interim champion are indicated with letters next to their names:
- The letter ‘C’ indicates the champion
- The letters ‘IC’ indicate the interim champion
What does UFC undisputed champion mean? In the UFC when a new champion is crowned, they are known as the ‘undisputed champion’ – meaning there is no doubt over who the champion of that weight division is – they are unquestionably the best in their weight division.
The undisputed champ will then go on defending their title until they either:
- Lose to the number one contender
- Vacate the title
- Are stripped of the title by the UFC
- Or they retire
What does UFC interim champion mean? In the UFC an interim champion means someone who holds a temporary title and is next in-line for a shot at becoming the UFC undisputed champion.
Why does the UFC have interim champions? There are a number of reasons why the UFC have interim champions in a weight division – including if the undisputed champion is:
- Medically unfit to fight
However, not every weight division will have an interim champion if there isn’t a need for one.
How do UFC titles work?
- If the undisputed champion loses a championship fight – then they lose their title and a new champ takes their belt
- If the undisputed champion does not lose, but instead they vacate their belt, or is stripped of their belt, or retire – then an Interim Champion has to be named. The title will either automatically go to the number one contender or will be decided in an interim title fight, with the winner being crowned Interim Champion of that weight division
- If a number one contender is crowned as an Interim Champion for any reason – then this disputes the champion’s undisputed status, meaning a unification title fight must take place to determine who is the new undisputed champion
It’s worth noting though that most fans and UFC fighters do not see the interim title as a real title and disregard it as a ‘fake belt’.
A good example of this was at UFC 249 when Justin Gaethje was announced as the new Interim Lightweight champion. Gaethje threw his belt on the ground and, when asked by Joe Rogan why he threw it away, Gaethje replied “I’ll wait for the real one”.
The BMF Title
What is the UFC BMF title belt? The BMF title was a one-off championship title made by the UFC in 2019 to decide who is the baddest motherf—-er in the UFC.
In 2019 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the UFC held their 500th live show. The main event was the long awaited and much hyped fight between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.
When interviewed about the upcoming fight, Diaz was reported to have said that the fight was to determine who was the baddest motherf—er in the sport.
Back in the UFC offices, Nate Diaz’s BMF comment was said to have got the UFC marketing team and UFC president Dana White jokingly discussing whether they should make an actual BMF belt. Dana then mentioned it to the media and the whole thing started to take shape. The UFC’s design team put together a design and Dana White gave it the go ahead.
At a press conference before the fight, the official BMF title was revealed for the first time and was said to be the most expensive belt the UFC had ever made.
When asked about whether or not the BMF title would continue in the UFC, Dana White replied that it was only for a bit of fun and was “a one and done title”. Meaning that the BMF title was a one-off title for the UFC’s 500th event between Masvidal and Diaz only – and will not be continued on with.