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 World Female Heavyweight Championship: Alejandra Jimenez (c) (8-0) vs. Vanessa Lepage Joanisse (3-0)
When/Where: Saturday, Mexico Televisa
Competitiveness: 5: Awww hell yeah. Obviously female heavyweight boxing isn’t promoted whatsoever, and for good reason, there’s no fighters there. But this is a fantastic bout. You have Jimenez, BoxRec’s #1 female heavyweight boxer, capable of throwing hands or going ten rounds, against Joanisse, a Canadian amateur standout, who’s only 22, and is undefeated in her career. Female heavyweight boxing could absolutely be a draw if the right fighters are in it, and this is a hell of a start.
Viewing Ease: 2: This will be on Mexico Televisa, so there will be a much better change you can view this on a stream, rather than the other boxing contests this weekend.
t2. WBA World Female Junior Flyweight Championship: Yesica Yolanda Bopp (c) (31-1) vs. Olga Julio (25-16-2)
When/Where: When/Where: Saturday, Uruguay Teledoce La Tele
Excitement: 4: You have Julio, who has 18 KOs as a junior flyweight woman, which is insane, against Bopp, who KO’d Julio herself in the second round of their first bout in 2011. This is going to end violently.
Juice: 3: Bopp only took two rounds to KO Julio back in 2011, but Olga has some unreal heavy hands for her weight class, and has finished six of her last eight wins.
Viewing Ease: 1
t2. Classic Entertainment & Sports MMA Heavyweight Championship: Ashley Gooch (c) (10-5) vs. Julian Coutinho (7-3)
When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, AXS
Prestige: 2: CES has always come way behind the Legacy/Titan/RFA/Lion Fight promotions on AXS, but with guys like Andre Soukhamthath making some waves in the UFC, and John Howard calling CES a second home, hopefully this Rhode Island promotion gets more eyeballs on it going forward.
Viewing Ease: 3: You have to get the extra, EXTRA package to get AXS, but it’s the only U.S. TV option of this graveyard of a weekend.
4. Vacant IBF World Female Junior Middleweight Bout: Chris Namus (22-4) vs. Yamila Esther Reynoso (8-1-3)
When/Where: Saturday, Uruguay Teledoce La Tele
Competitiveness: 4: I like this matchup. Namus is a fantastic boxer who’s moving up in weight after failing to conquer the juggernaut that is Cecelia Braekhus at welterweight, to which there is no shame. Reynoso is a 21-year old with seven out of her eight wins by KO/TKO. She has thunder in her hands, but Namus has the experience factor. Should be a fun bout.
Viewing Ease: 1: It’s ladies night in Uruguay for two female world title fights, unfortunately, unless you can catch a stream of Uruguay TV, you’re SOL.
5. Aspera Fighting Championship Heavyweight Championship: Ricardo Prasel (c) (8-0) vs. Edison Lopes (8-2)
When/Where: Saturday, Untelevised
Excitement: 5: Prasel is a 6’9″ heavyweight submission ace. There’s no way you don’t see him on TV within six months if he wins, here.
Prestige: 2: Aspera has sort of taken over Jungle Fight, Watch Out Combat Sports, and other Brazilian regionals as top-indie in the MMA world.
Viewing Ease: 1