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The Ecstasy of Gold: 5 Best Title Fights of the Weekend


The championship fight. The pinnacle of achievement across combat sports for centuries. A premiere attraction that draws millions every year. But not all title bouts are created equally.


So which title bouts every week are the ones to watch? We’ll look over every title fight from across the combat sports landscape and give you the five best based on five criteria:



  • Competitiveness: Is this an even matchup? Or just a warm body to throw at a champion? It’s a title fight, so we want the best possible at that division in that promotion.
  • Excitement: How exciting will this fight be? A clash of two elite talents throwing everything they have at each other in an attempt to win the gold? Or a half-dead plod-fest devoid of action or risk?
  • Juice: A sort of catch-all term for all the factors behind the matchup. Is there a story leading up to the match? A true rivalry? Anticipated rematch? Do the fighters dislike each other? Were the circumstances leading to the fight extraordinary, or was it just a promoter putting two names against each other? Is there a lot of excitement or hype going into it?
  • Prestige: Applies to the belt itself, but also to the fighter wearing it. Is this a long-tenured champion defending? Is this an interim title or one that was vacated? Has the champion increased the prestige of the title or is this a fight that will increase the prestige of it?
  • Viewing Ease: We all don’t mind suffering for our art (or hobbies), but sometimes paying twenty dollars for a choppy stream, or searching your cable plan for a channel you’re pretty sure was just invented three days ago in the 6000s isn’t the best of times. How easy, affordable, and stress-free is this bout to watch?



So here are your five best gold options for the weekend.



1. WBC/WBA Super/IBF/WBO/IBO World Junior Welterweight Championship: Julius Indongo (c) (22-0) vs. Terence Crawford (c) (31-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 4
Juice: 3
Viewing Ease: 5: Through ESPN’s various ways to view, even cord-cutters and your grandmother can watch some Bud Crawford.

Total: 22



t2. Flyweight King of Pancrase: Mamoru Yamaguchi (c) (31-10-5) vs. Senzo Ikeda (10-6-1)

When/Where: Sunday, 2:00am, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5: Here’s an incredible stat; the last SIX of Yamaguchi’s fights have been split-decisions. The last 6! That’s crazy. And one of them was against, you guessed it, a win over Ikeda in 2016.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 2
Prestige: 3: There’s still prestige and carries weight being a champion (king) of Pancrase, as it’s still regarded as the OG of MMA promotions.
Viewing Ease: 4:

Total: 17



t2. Absolute Championship Berkut Welterweight Championship: Brett Cooper (c) (23-12) vs. Mukhamed Berkhamov (11-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00am, YouTube/Fite.tv

Competitiveness: 5: Mukhamed is very, very adept technically, but Cooper is a blood-and-guts fighter who’s seen (and been punched) it all throughout the world. Interesting matchup.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 2
Viewing Ease: 5: It’s free on the YouTubes!

Total: 17



t4. NABF Light Heavyweight Championship: Oleksandr Gvozdyk (c) (13-0) vs. Craig Baker (17-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

Competitiveness: 2: Nooo, no. This is a showcase for Gvozdyk in front of a huge audience. So, yeah. No.
Excitement: 5: Well, for better or worse, most of Baker’s fights are really brief, win or loss, so this should be entertaining.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 2
Viewing Ease: 5

Total: 15



t4. OneFC Featherweight Championship: Marat Gafurov (c) (15-0) vs. Martin Nguyen (8-1)

When/Where: Friday, 7:00am, OneFC.com

Competitiveness: 2: I mean…they met once before…it ended in 41 seconds.
Excitement: 5: The last six wins for Gafurov have all been by rear-naked choke, including one over Nguyen. If you’re a grappling fan, this is your jam.
Juice: 2
Prestige: 3
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 15