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

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

Combat

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

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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?

 

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

 

5. Vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship: Jose Aldo (28-6) vs. Petr Yan (14-1)

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

Competitiveness: 3: Aldo has gone 2-4 in his last six, 3-5 in his last eight including three title fight losses. This is a lifetime achievement award opportunity for Aldo.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 4: 135lb used to be a nasty triad between TJ Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt, and Dominick Cruz. Now, it’s a vacated title because an attention-seeking champion wants desperately to be wanted back.
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 14

 

4. Vacant LFA Featherweight Championship: Jake Childers (8-0) vs. Justin Gonzales (10-0)

When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 1: An unfortunate weakness of regionals is that fighters tend not to stick around long enough to develop rivalries or for the titles to gather stories because they’re vacated so often.
Prestige: 3: LFA titles are meant to punch tickets to the big leagues, as did their previous featherweight champion, Damon Jackson, who is now in PFL.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16

 

3. Polaris Lightweight Championship: Ashley Williams (c) vs. AJ Agazarm

When/Where: Saturday, 3:00pm, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5: Agazarm is a polarizing figure, but there’s no denying his talent.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 2
Prestige: 3: I admire Polaris having titles, and not a thousand of them like Fight To Win where they are constantly vacated. Williams was a vacant title, now he’s defending it against a top challenger. Awesome. Let’s see them grow.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 17

 

2. UFC Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski (c) (21-1) vs. Max Holloway (21-5)

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

Competitiveness: 5: There was no doubt that Volkanovski won their first bout, and the judges gave Holloway more of a break than most of us did, but I’ll give Max the benefit of the doubt here and say he’s made enough adjustments to make it closer, even though I’m not picking him to win.
Excitement: 3: Alex can mute Holloway’s freewheeling, fun striking style.
Juice: 3
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 18

 

1. UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (c) (16-1) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-13)

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

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 5: Usman is already entertaining, but adding Masvidal to the mix? C’mon, now.
Juice: 4: What was a rather pedestrian offering at first with Gilbert Burns with minimal build has undergone a transformation after going through the fireworks factory. Burns had to withdraw due to test positive for COVID, and stepping up on six days notice to Fight Island, Jorge goddamned Gambred Masvidal. All of a sudden it’s a brand-new dynamic and Masvidal has never been more of a made man in the UFC.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 20

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