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5 Youngest Bantamweight Champions Of All Time

10 months ago By Sports Desk

The world of mixed martial arts (MMA) has witnessed some extraordinary talents throughout its history, and among them are the fighters who achieved greatness at a remarkably young age. In the illustrious history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), several fighters have risen to become champions in their respective weight classes while still in their early twenties. In this article, we will delve into the careers of the five youngest bantamweight champions in UFC history, celebrating their accomplishments and the paths that led them to the coveted championship gold.

1. Jon Jones: The Phenomenon

Jon “Bones” Jones is a name synonymous with MMA greatness. Known for his unparalleled skillset and unorthodox fighting style, Jones made history by becoming the youngest bantamweight champion in UFC history at the age of 23 years and eight months. This achievement marked the beginning of a legendary career that has seen Jones dominate the light-heavyweight division for years.

Jones made his UFC debut in 2008 at just 20 years old, showcasing his exceptional clinch work and unique striking style. Within six fights, he earned a shot at the light-heavyweight championship, held by the formidable Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Despite Rua’s experience and Muay Thai background, Jones dominated him in a one-sided beatdown, claiming the title via a third-round TKO stoppage on March 19, 2011.

Over the years, Jones successfully defended his light-heavyweight title and added notable names to his list of conquests, including Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, and Thiago Santos. After his last title defense in 2020, Jones decided to vacate the title and announce his move to the heavyweight division, where he aims to capture yet another championship belt. His upcoming fight for the vacant heavyweight championship against Ciryl Gane is highly anticipated and could solidify his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

2. José Aldo: The King of Rio

José Aldo, often referred to as “The King of Rio,” is a Brazilian MMA legend and one of the greatest featherweights of all time. Aldo secured his spot in the history books as the second-youngest bantamweight champion in UFC history when he won the title at the age of 24 years and 21 days.

Aldo’s journey to UFC gold began with an impressive record of 10-1 before he made his debut in the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion. Winning his first five fights in the WEC, all by finish, earned him a shot at the WEC featherweight championship. In a memorable bout, Aldo defeated the reigning champion, Mike Brown, by TKO in the second round, claiming the WEC gold. He successfully defended the WEC title twice more, establishing himself as a dominant force in the featherweight division.

In 2010, Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, purchased the WEC to merge it with the UFC. This merger led to Aldo being promoted to UFC Featherweight Champion on November 20, 2010, shortly after his 24th birthday. Aldo went on to defend the featherweight title seven times, becoming a two-time featherweight champion, and even challenged for the bantamweight title later in his career. His list of victories includes notable names like Frankie Edgar, Rob Font, and Pedro Munhoz. In 2022, Aldo announced his retirement following his fight against Merab Dvalishvili, capping off a remarkable career in the UFC.

3. Josh Barnett: The Youngest UFC Heavyweight Champion

Josh Barnett etched his name in the history books by becoming the youngest UFC heavyweight champion at just 24 years, four months, and 12 days old. Barnett’s journey to the championship was characterized by his early dominance in regional promotions and a spectacular victory over Randy Couture.

Barnett made his MMA debut at the age of 19 and quickly rose to prominence by winning his first nine fights in regional promotions. This impressive win streak caught the attention of the UFC, and he was invited to make his octagon debut at UFC 28. Facing Gan McGee in his debut, Barnett weathered an early storm in the first round before securing a second-round TKO victory. Although he faced a setback in his next fight, Barnett bounced back with wins against Semmy Schilt and Bobby Hoffman, earning him a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

In a memorable bout, Barnett faced heavyweight champion Randy Couture. Despite being just 24 years old, Barnett displayed his prowess by dominating Couture in a similar fashion to his previous fight, securing a late second-round TKO victory. This historic win made Barnett the youngest UFC heavyweight champion at the time.

Unfortunately, Barnett’s reign as champion was short-lived, as he was stripped of the title following a second positive drug test. He didn’t return to the UFC for another 11 years, but his achievement as the youngest heavyweight champion in UFC history remains a testament to his early success in the sport.

4. Carlos Newton: The Submission Specialist

Carlos Newton is another remarkable fighter who achieved UFC championship glory at a young age. He became the UFC bantamweight champion at 24 years, eight months, and 17 days old. Newton’s journey to the championship was marked by his early debut, overcoming size disadvantages, and an eventful title reign.

Newton made his MMA debut at the tender age of 19, showcasing his talents in a sport where experience often reigns supreme. In his debut fight, he faced Jean Rivière, a much larger opponent with a 100-pound weight advantage. Although Newton lost the fight, his valiant effort gained him immense popularity in the MMA world.

After making his UFC debut with a submission win over Bob Gilstrap, Newton faced a few ups and downs in his career, including a split decision loss to Dan Henderson. Following a three-year absence from the UFC, Newton returned to take on Pat Miletich for the Welterweight Championship. In a thrilling bout, Newton secured a third-round submission victory, becoming the UFC bantamweight champion at the age of 24.

However, Newton’s reign as champion was marred by controversy. In a highly debated fight, he lost his title to Matt Hughes in a match that ended with both fighters unconscious. The referee declared Hughes the winner, and Newton’s title reign came to an end.

5. Frank Shamrock: The Fastest Submission

Frank Shamrock, a fighter known for his impressive submissions and quick finishes, rounds out our list as the fifth-youngest bantamweight champion in UFC history. Shamrock captured the title at the age of 25 years and 14 days, marking the beginning of a remarkable career filled with accomplishments.

Shamrock’s MMA journey began with a bang when he made his UFC debut in 1997. He holds the record for the fastest submission in light-heavyweight history, finishing a fight in just 16 seconds. Additionally, he boasts the fastest knockout in Strikeforce history, ending a fight in just 20 seconds. Shamrock’s versatility and skills extended beyond the UFC, as he became a champion in multiple promotions, including Pancrase, the WEC, Strikeforce, and, of course, the UFC. Notably, he maintained an undefeated record of

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