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

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


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. WBA (Super) World Lightweight Championship/WBO World Lightweight Championship: Jose Pedraza (c) (25-1) vs. Vasyl Lomachenko (c) (11-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, ESPN

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5: Oh hell yes, we get to see Hi-Tech do his goddamned Matrix water-movement with ESPN’s full production behind it, from 96 camera angles.
Juice: 4: Title unifications are my shit, y’all. Especially in boxing.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 23


2. Vacant UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-2) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (15-3)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5: Yes, Shev has three wins over JJ, but it was in amateur bouts a decade ago. This is a PERFECT matchup.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 5: Holy shit, tons of history here between these two ladies. They were bitter rivals in their amateur muay thai/kickboxing days, with Shevchenko defeating Joanna three times; in 2006, 2007, and 2008. JJ, as is her way, downplayed and talked shit on Bullet, but her bark doesn’t hold the same weight it did after being embarrassed by Rose Namajunas twice. Shev is taking the high road, but does she still have JJ’s number a decade later?
Prestige: 4
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 21


3. UFC Featherweight Championship: Max Holloway (c) (19-3) vs. Brian Ortega (14-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5: I can’t even imagine how this can be boring. These two are so goddamned dynamic and are so skilled, athletic, and versatile.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3: It’s a two-fight PPV. It’s a great doubleheader, but damn, Top Rank is putting Loma on ESPN at the same time.

Total: 19


4. WBO World Junior Featherweight Championship: Isaac Dogboe (c) (20-0) vs. Emanuel Navarrete (25-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, ESPN

Competitiveness: 3: Junior featherweight isn’t the most stable division, with fighters jumping up and down, but Dogboe is a legit kingpin. Navarrete is a great fighter, but he isn’t on Dogboe’s level. Nonetheless, it’s a great bout for a co-main on basic cable!
Excitement: 5
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4: For a regular ESPN card, this is a fantastic doubleheader. Top Rank coming hard.

Total: 18


5. K-1 Super Featherweight Championship: Takeru (c) (35-1) vs. Koji Sumeragichi (25-12)

When/Where: Sunday, Untelevised

Competitiveness: 2
Excitement: 5: It’s goddamned Takeru. It’s must-watch!
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3
Viewing Ease: 1: Get you a VPN and Abema TV and you’ll be a happy man/woman.

Total: 12

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