Youngest UFC Champions in History

8 Youngest UFC Champions in History

Joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Company as a fighter requires you to be 18 years old. However, to contest for the UFC championships, you must be between 21 and 34 years. If you want to be a competing fighter, you must be eligible to live and work in the USA.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the largest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion company in the world. It is an American firm that is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is led by Dana White who has been the president for the last 2 decades. Under his leadership, the company is recognized globally as a multi-billion dollar business.

The following list exhibits the youngest UFC champions who defied their ages and claimed championships to prove that age is not a limiting factor. Read on to find out about the youngest champs in history.

8. B.J. Penn

Year of birth: December 13, 1978
Age at championship: 25
Year won: 2004
Category: Lightweight
Nationality: American

B.J. Pennphoto source:

Born Jay Dee Penn, the 43-year-old MMA artist earned the UFC championship by defeating Matt Hughes. Nicknamed “The Prodigy,” Penn had lost a chance at the title after losing to Jens Pulver and Caol Uno in previous fights.

The former MMA fighter intends to run for office as Governor of Hawaii. He states that he is there to fight for the freedom of the people, especially after the adverse effects of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Did You Know?

B.J. Penn is the first American to win the gold medal of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. He also takes the second position out of seven UFC fighters to win various titles in numerous weight categories. In 2015, he made it into the UFC Hall of Fame as the Modern era-wing Inaugural inductee. He is also a 2-time holder of the UFC Hall of Fame Championship. 

7. Ricco Rodriguez

Year of birth: August 19, 1977
Age at championship: 25
Year won: 2002
Category: Heavyweight
Nationality: American

Ricco Rodriguezphoto source:

Ricco Rodriguez is a semi-retired MMA fighter who has many accomplishments under his belt, including the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship. He won gold and silver in the +99kg category in the years 1998 and 2000. In the Absolute category in 1999, he received a bronze medal. Rodriguez also participated in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships and became one of the few Americans to win.

Although he began his MMA career at 21 years of age, Rodriguez won the UFC championship at age 25. He fought against Randy Couture and won in the fifth round after showering Couture with elbows.

Did You Know?

Ricco Rodriguez claims the number 7 as the youngest UFC champion, beating B.J. Penn by only 10 days. He won his first UFC fight at the UFC 32 against Andrei Arlovski, who was ranked number 1 as a pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Rodriguez won the fight by TKO.

6. Frank Mir

Year of birth: May 24, 1979
Age at championship: 25
Year won: 2004
Category: Heavyweight
Nationality: American

Frank Mirphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Born Francisco Santos Mir the 3rd, the professional wrestler Frank Mir has won the UFC Heavyweight Championship twice. He is a record holder of the most finishes and submission victories in the UFC heavyweight division. Mir has a record of 19 wins and 13 losses.

In 1998, Frank Mir won the state championship during his senior year at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas. The 42-year-old is the first fighter to knock out and submit Antonio Noguiera in UFC history. After competing in MMA for 16 years, Mir is currently competing for Bellator MMA.

Did You Know?

Mir won the UFC champion by snapping his opponent’s arm just one minute into the match. However, Mir did not enjoy his win because of a motorcycle accident that led to him being stripped of his championship due to inactivity.

5. Frank Shamrock

Year of birth: December 8, 1972
Age at championship: 25
Year won: 2001
Category: Middleweight
Nationality: American

Frank Shamrockphoto source:

Frank Shamrock fought Kevin Jackson to win the UFC Middleweight Championship, which was later renamed as the Light Heavyweight category. He defeated Jackson in under 16 seconds to earn the title of the fastest UFC victory. He was an orphan, and was adopted by Bob Shamrock.

The retired MMA artist has acquired many titles over the years such as author, philanthropist, social activist and entrepreneur. He has also been a commentator for Bellator MMA, Showtime Networks, Combate’s America and Glory Kickboxing.

Did You Know?

During his time as a UFC Middleweight champion, he was ranked number 1 in the pound-to-pound category. Shamrock has impressive recognitions – he was named “Fighter of the Year” three times by Full Contact Fighter Magazine. In the 1990s, the Wrestling Observer named him “Fighter of the Decade,” and the Black Belt Magazine 1998 referred to him as the “Best Full Contact Fighter.”

4. Carlos Newton

Year of birth: August 17, 1976
Age at championship: 24
Year won: 2001
Category: Welterweight
Nationality: Canadian

Carlos Newtonphoto source:

Carlos Newton claimed the welterweight championship after defeating Pat Miletich with a bulldog choke. He began his MMA career at the age of 19 and trained under Terry Riggs and Everton McEwan. Newton lost his first match to a larger opponent, Jean Riviere, and the first was referred to as “David vs. Goliath.”

Even though he won against Pat Miletich, he lost the welterweight championship to Matt Hughes shortly after. The fight was very fierce and in turn, Newton hit his head and was unconscious when Hughes was announced the winner. He goes by the nickname of “The Ronin.”

Did You Know?

Carlos Newton is one amongst a handful of athletes that have been allowed to participate in both UFC championships and PRIDE Fighting Championships at the same time. He ranks as the first Canadian to compete in the UFC championships, and the first fight was at the UFC 31.

Newton was also a geriatric student at Toronto York University, and did his research in Baycrest Hospital.

3. Josh Barnett

Year of birth: November 10, 1977
Age at championship: 24
Year won: 2001
Category: Heavyweight
Nationality: American

Josh Barnettphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Joshua Lawrence Barnett was born in Seattle as an MMA fighter of many talents. His skills include submission grappling, color commentating, and professional wrestling. He won the UFC championship against Randy Couture, and has competed in other contests like DREAM, World Victory Road, Affliction, and Impact FC.

When Barnett was young, he was enrolled in anger management programs because he had a troubled childhood. He originally got into athletics to help him cope with his anger issues, training in sports such as judo and kickboxing and excelling in wrestling and football at Ballard High School.

Did You Know?

Barnett won 3 out of his first 4 fights when he made his debut as a fighter. He held his championship title for eight years, and was nicknamed the Warmaster. Initially, he was set to play football for the University of Montana, but he opted to train with Jim Harrison at the Bushidokan dojo. Although he didn’t have money for his training, Barnett cleaned and maintained the dojo as a means of receiving training.

2. Jose Aldo

Year of birth: September 9, 1986
Age at championship: 24
Year won: 2010
Category: Featherweight
Nationality: Brazilian

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Born Jose da Silva Oliveira Junior, the 35-year-old never lost a fight after 2005. He won 18 straight fights up until 2015. In 2009, he was named Sherdog’s Fighter of the Year. Although Aldo began and won in the Featherweight division, he currently plays in the Bantamweight category.

In April 2017, Aldo earned himself the title of “the greatest featherweight in MMA history” in the Sherdog’s pound-for-pound ranking. He has fought in lightweight and featherweight categories, but currently he plays at the Bantamweight division.

Did You Know?

Jose Aldo had to wait for a whole year and win two fights just to get the UFC champion promotion. Since he had not begun his fighting career in the U.S., the Brazilian fighter had to follow the UFC guidelines. He had already won the WEC championship in Brazil, which was considered the ultimate championship in his country. One of his most iconic moments as a champion is when he ran out into the crowd at the HSBC Arena in Rio after winning against Chad Mendes at UFC 142.

1. Jon Jones

Year of birth: July 19, 1987
Age at championship: 23
Year won: 2011
Category: Light heavyweight
Nationality: American

Jon Jonesphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Jon Jones is the youngest UFC champion ever in history. Born Jonathan Dwight Jones, the 34-year-old has a black and purple belt in Gaidojutsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was a state champion and an excellent wrestler at Union-Endicott High School. He dropped out of Morrisville State College where he was studying Criminal Justice to pursue his MMA profession.

Jones has many accomplishments under his belt, including most submission victories, most wins, most title defenses, and the longest win streak in the light heavyweight category. The father of four is now eyeing championships at the heavyweight division after leaving the light heavyweight category.

Did You Know?

Jones’ father, Arthur, wanted Jones to become a pastor, and discouraged his fighting career. He enjoyed playing football as a defender, and earned his nickname, “Bones,” due to his slight frame from his high school coach. Jon Jones has earned himself the title of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.



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