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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?
5. IBF World Female Flyweight Championship: Leonela Paola Yudica (c) (16-0-3) vs. Isabel Millan (25-5-1)
When/Where: Friday, Untelevised
Excitement: 2: The champ has sixteen wins, and *checks notes* zero of which by knockout. Yikes.
Viewing Ease: 1: There are three world title boxing fights on the slate for this weekend. Two of which are on this very card, which is totally dark with no streams. In 2019, IN 2019, PEOPLE?
4. Lion Fight World Super Cruiserweight Championship: Steve Walker (c) (7-0) vs. Chris Bradford (24-13)
When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, CBS Sports
Competitiveness: 2: “Put Em To Sleep”‘s been nigh untouchable since his Lion Fight run has kicked off, and Bradford isn’t going to be the guy to derail him.
Viewing Ease: 3: Muay Thai, especially a top-notch American MT promotion like Lion Fight, getting a regular slot on an American sports network, even one like CBS Sports, is a great thing. ESPECIALLY if it translates to CBS airing a live card on their network channel, which I’m sure is the end-goal of Lion Fight. Remember, CBS was the first network to broadcast MMA.
3. WBO World Junior Featherweight Championship: Emanuel Navarrete (c) (27-1) vs. Francisco De Vaca (20-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN
Competitiveness: 2: Despite his pretty record, De Vaca isn’t in the same area code of Navarrete. His best win is, I don’t even know….a UD over a 17-5-2 Jesus Serrano? He has no big wins, no secondary titles, and is now running up against the best junior featherweight in the world.
Prestige: 5: The only men’s world boxing title up for grabs this weekend.
Viewing Ease: 4
2. OneFC Flyweight Kickboxing Championship: Petchdam Petchyindee Academy (c) (27-12-1) vs. Ilias Ennahachi (29-2-1)
When/Where: Friday, 8:30am, OneFC App
Juice: 3: It’s OneFC vs. Enfusion, as Ennahachi was Enfusion’s 60kg champion before signing with ONE.
Prestige: 2: Still new, but it’ll get there.
Viewing Ease: 5
1. UFC Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Cormier (c) (22-1) vs. Stipe Miocic (18-3)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Pay-Per-View
Competitiveness: 4: These are two of the greatest fighters to ever live, and they’re Hall of Famers with incredibly careers. But I can’t overlook that pasting that DC gave Stipe last time out, so I can’t give this a 5.
Excitement: 5: These two can’t have boring fights, and they certainly didn’t against each other.
Viewing Ease: 2