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UFC Fight Pass Flashback: Reclaiming gold

As we approach 'UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev,' here's a look back at every current UFC athlete who reclaimed a title.

UFC 280 is headlined by former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who is trying to capture 155-pound gold for the second time in his career.

Becoming champion back in May 2021, when he defeated Michael Chandler in the second round at UFC 262, Oliveira was stripped after only one title defense after failing to make the 155-pound limit on the scales in preparation for his UFC 274 main event against Justin Gaethje. Oliveira can earn back his title in UFC 280's main event by defeating a surging Islam Makhachev, who has accumulated 10 consecutive UFC victories.

In the co-main event, T.J. Dillashaw has an opportunity to earn gold for the third time in his bantamweight career. Dillashaw faces current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, who's solidified himself as the best 135-pounder in the world after successfully defeating Petr Yan.

With less than three weeks until UFC 280, we look back at every current UFC athlete that has captured undisputed gold in the same division twice in their careers:

T.J. Dillashaw: UFC 173 and UFC 217

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T.J. Dillashaw has been involved in the UFC bantamweight division's title picture for the last eight years, making him one of the most dominant athletes in the promotion over that span.

At UFC 173, Dillashaw went up against then-champion Renan Barao, who came into the bout on a 32-fight unbeaten streak with three title defenses. With those credentials, you'd expect Dillashaw to be quite the underdog, and most likely face some adversity in the fight. However, Dillashaw got out on the front foot early and never looked back.

In the first round, Dillashaw showed off his hand speed and diversified his strikes well to keep Barao constantly guessing where the next attack would come from. With 60 seconds left in the round, Dillashaw landed a massive overhand right that dropped Barao to the mat. Despite recovering well, this was the first sign for Barao that he may be in for a long night if he couldn't keep up with Dillashaw's speed and accuracy.

Continuing his early success throughout all five rounds, Dillashaw strolled his way to a unanimous decision victory and his first undisputed UFC bantamweight title.

After losing his title to Dominick Cruz two years later, Dillashaw earned an opportunity to retrieve what was once his against then-champion Cody Garbrandt, who looked virtually untouchable in his title winning performance against Cruz at UFC 207 to bring him to 11-0.

In a fight fueled by bad blood between the former teammates from Team Alpha Male, Dillashaw faced adversity late in the first, being on the wrong end of a knockdown in the dying seconds of a round that had Dillashaw on wobbly legs on his way to his corner.

In the second, a seemingly fully recovered Dillashaw began loading up with powerful shots. A left high kick landed, dropping Garbrandt in what looked like a flash knockdown before "No Love" bounced right back up to his feet. Moments later, Dillashaw landed a left hook that sent Garbrandt back down to the mat. The referee stepped in moments later to stop the bout, making Dillashaw a two-time bantamweight champion.

Amanda Nunes: UFC 200 and UFC 277

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If there's one fighter that almost all UFC fans and athletes can agree is one of the best of all-time, it's Amanda Nunes. Her title reign began at UFC 200, T-Mobile Arena's inaugural UFC event. In the headliner, Nunes challenged champion Miesha Tate, who won her title four months earlier in an epic come from behind submission win against Holly Holm.

Like many of her epic performances, Nunes found success early and often, accurately landing power shots that stunned Tate and drove her back up against the cage. Tate shot for a takedown, hoping to recover, but Nunes reversed the position, took control of her back and locked in a rear naked choke. 

Nunes' reign lasted five years until she suffered defeat to Julianna Peña at UFC 269. Having been champion and thought of by many as the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time, she was granted an immediate rematch at UFC 277.

It a 25-minute battle, Nunes looked as good as she ever has, landing a relentless series of strikes and having complete control over Peña in grappling exchanges. Nunes won decisively on the scorecards, receiving scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.

Deiveson Figueiredo: 'UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2' and UFC 270

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Current UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo had his second crack at 125-pound gold against Joseph Benavidez at "UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2." Their first matchup was for the vacant flyweight title, in February of 2020, which Figueiredo won decisively in round two. However, Figueiredo was unable to become champion after missing weight by 2.5 pounds the day prior.

The two were scheduled to meet again five months later. Both making weight this time around, the fight went on as planned. This time, Figueiredo got the job done quicker than their first matchup, rightfully earning the UFC title.

A draw in his first title defense against Brandon Moreno led to what eventually became one of the UFC's most interesting trilogies. In their second meeting, Moreno got the best of the Brazilian, sinking in a submission in the third round. Seven months later in a "Fight of the Night" bout, Figueiredo reclaimed the belt via unanimous decision. Albeit unanimous, the fight was extremely close, where one more takedown or significant strike could've changed the entire outcome. Moreno has since become the interim champion, defeating Kai Kara-France at UFC 277, meaning the next title fight at 125 pounds is expected to be a fourth meeting between these two combatants.

Carla Esparza: 'The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion will be Crowned' and UFC 274

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In "The Ultimate Fighter 20" season finale, Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas met in the main event, competing to become the inaugural UFC strawweight champion. As well as Namajunas did on the show up until this fight, submitting all three of her opponents in the first or second round, Esparza showed that her wrestling game was elite, and that even some of the sneakiest submission artists would struggle if the fight went to the mat.

Esparza began the third round with a takedown, putting Namajunas on the mat within the first 15 seconds. Entering Namajunas' guard, Esparza landed damaging ground-and-pound until Namajunas turned to her stomach, giving up her back. Esparza locked in a rear naked choke and that was all she wrote. In less than three rounds, Esparza secured five takedowns and out struck Namajunas 107 to 29.

Fast forward eight years, and the two meet again. This time in the co-main event at UFC 274, with "Thug Rose" as champion and Esparza the challenger. Landing only 30 total strikes through 25 minutes, this bout wasn't necessarily a fan favorite, but Esparza was constantly moving forward and was more active than her opponent. Winning the fight via split decision, Esparza reclaimed her title. Esparza's first title defense is scheduled for "UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira" against Zhang Weili.

Stipe Miocic: UFC 198 and UFC 241

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In the main event at UFC 198, Stipe Miocic dethroned Fabricio Werdum in impressive fashion. Halfway through the opening round, Werdum started chasing after Miocic, looking to land combinations as Miocic was backpedaling. While moving backwards, Miocic landed a crisp counter right, knocking out Werdum as soon as it landed.

Miocic successfully defended the belt three times, defeating Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos and Francis Ngannou, until light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier moved up a weight class to challenge for double-champ status at UFC 226. Cormier defeated Miocic by first-round knockout from a short right hand in the clinch.

A year later, the two met again at UFC 241, where Miocic reclaimed his title by fourth-round TKO. This set up a heavyweight trilogy between the two athletes, with the third and final bout taking place at UFC 252. Unlike their first two meetings, this bout went all five rounds, with Miocic getting the nod on all three judges' scorecards.

Rose Namajunas: UFC 217 and UFC 261

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At UFC 217, a star was born. In the featured bout on the main card, Rose Namajunas challenged strawweight titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk. A perfect 14-0 coming into the fight, Jedrzejczyk was considered the best fighter in the history of the division. However, three minutes into the first round, Namajunas landed a left hook, dropping Joanna to the mat. Namajunas followed up with ground strikes until the referee stepped in to stop the fight. This performance led to the iconic "Thug Rose" call from Cormier, and Namajunas became an instant UFC star.

At UFC 261, Namajunas was in the spotlight once again, challenging then-champion Zhang Weili in the co-main event. Zhang was coming off a completely lopsided title-winning performance against Jessica Andrade and an instant classic victory over Jedrzejczyk in her first title defense. But just over one minute into the first round of her second title defense, Namajunas landed a devastating head kick, knocking out Zhang in spectacular fashion. These two title-winning performances may be the most exciting on this entire list, making Namajunas a fan favorite amongst many UFC fans around the world.

Dominick Cruz: WEC 53 and 'UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz'

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Before the UFC merged with WEC, absorbing its bantamweight division, Dominick Cruz was WEC's bantamweight champion, dethroning Brian Bowles and defending his title against Joseph Benavidez. At WEC 53, Cruz defended his title against Scott Jorgensen while simultaneously winning the inaugural UFC bantamweight championship.

After two UFC title defenses, Cruz relinquished the belt after being injured and forced out of competition for over two years. But in 2016, Cruz earned his chance to get his title back against Dillashaw. Cruz won the incredibly even bout via split decision.

Jon Jones: UFC 128 and UFC 232

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On March 19, 2011, Jon Jones became the youngest UFC champion in UFC history at only 23 years old. At UFC 128, Jones dethroned Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, and made it look easy. Virtually untouched through three rounds, Jones outstruck Rua 102 to 11 while accumulating almost eight minutes of control time after going three-for-three on takedown attempts. Although it might not be the fastest title winning performance, it's certainly one of the most one-sided.

After eight successful title defenses, Jones was stripped of his title from his involvement in a hit-and-run accident, resulting in his arrest. Jones had a chance to earn back his undisputed title at UFC 214, but his victory was overturned to a no contest following a failed drug test.

A year-and-a-half later, Jones returned to competition at UFC 232, facing a familiar foe in Alexander Gustafsson. The two met five years earlier in a Fight of the Night main event at UFC 165 that saw Jones win a unanimous decision. This time around, Jones was able to finish Gustafsson inside the distance with a third-round TKO.

This story first published at UFC.com.