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.


5. Vacant LFA Welterweight Championship: Jason Jackson (9-3) vs. Junior Marques (9-1)

When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, AXS

Competitiveness: 3: Jackson was an ankle injury away on the Contender Series from possibly getting a UFC contract, and since then, has won his last two fights, in Bellator and LFA, in less than three rounds combined. Marques is a solid striker, but has a Brazilian-pumped fight record.
Excitement: 5
Juice: 1
Prestige: 2: As is the case with all LFA titles, they’re not won to get defended, they’re won to earn a ticket to the show. The last holder, James Nakashima, signed with OneFC.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 14


4. Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship: Julia Budd (c) (12-2) vs. Olga Rubin (6-0)

When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, Paramount Network/DAZN

Competitiveness: 3: Rubin in a decent-enough striker, but nothing Earth-shattering, and certainly nothing that Budd, who’s been in the cage with Amanda Nunes and Germaine De Randamie, hasn’t seen before. This will also be Rubin’s first five-rounder, which is always an adjustment.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3
Viewing Ease: 5: Multiple ways to watch, which, needless to say, is extremely rare.

Total: 15


3. WBC World Junior Flyweight Championship: Ken Shiro (c) (15-0) vs. Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1)

When/Where: Friday, 7:00am, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 3
Excitement: 4: At 27, Shiro is in his prime, and three of his last four title defenses have ended by TKO/KO.
Juice: 1: Taconing is a mandatory, not much here, but good to see WBC actually fulfilling their mandatory matchups.
Prestige: 5: This is Shiro’s sixth defense of his title that he’s held for over two years. He’s a fighting champion, beat Ganigan Lopez, whom he won the belt from, in a rematch by second-round TKO.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 17


2. WBA “Regular” World Middleweight Championship: Rob Brant (c) (25-1) vs. Ryota Murata (14-2)

When/Where: Friday, 7:00am, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 4
Juice: 4: When they first met in October of last year, Brant was an overlooked challenger, a 3-to-1 underdog, and that was generous on some books. He absolutely walloped Murata en route to a dominant decision. Now, after a successful Brant TKO defense of his title, they meet again, this time in Murata’s native Japan.
Prestige: 4: rEgUlAr WoRlD cHaMpIoNsHiP.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 20


1. WBC World Junior Featherweight Championship: Rey Vargas (c) (33-0) vs. Tomoki Kameda (36-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 7:00pm, DAZN

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 5
Juice: 3: These two actually met as amateurs ten years ago, with Vargas taking the win. Also, Kameda is only 27, but he hasn’t held a world title since he was 23 and has failed in both chances to get it back. 38 professional fights, how many chances will Kameda have left?
Prestige: 5: Legitimate world champion in his fifth defense vs. an interim champion. As legit as it gets.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 21

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