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.
t5. WBC/WBO World Junior Welterweight Championships: Jose Carlos Ramirez (c) (25-0) vs. Viktor Postol (31-2)
When/Where: Saturday, 7:30pm, ESPN
Competitiveness: 3: Postol was a former world champion at 140lbs, but that was five years ago and every step up since then has resulted in a loss for him, albeit going the distance.
Juice: 2: The first major fight to be postponed by COVID comes full-circle to The Bubble.
Viewing Ease: 4
t5. Inaugural Women’s Bantamweight World Lethwei Championship: Maisha Katz vs. Souris Manfredi
When/Where: Friday, 8:00am, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 5: Taped fists, kicks, clinches, and headbutts. Lethwei is another breed of fighting.
Viewing Ease: 4: Fight Pass remaining viable without having any actual live UFC fights on it is going to need more worldwide off-the-wall combat sports like this.
3. WBA World/Vacant IBO World Junior Middleweight Championships: Erislandy Lara (c) (26-3-3) vs. Greg Vendetti (22-3-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX
Competitiveness: 2: Vendetti is two fights removed from getting stopped in the second round by Michel Soro. He’s 30 and doesn’t have a signature win.
Viewing Ease: 5: Boxing on FOX two weeks in a row, with more to come from Premier Boxing Champions.
2. ONE Women’s Atomweight Muay Thai Championship: Stamp Fairtex (c) (63-16-5) vs. Allycia Rodrigues (30-5)
When/Where: Friday, 6:30am, ONE App
Competitiveness: 4: Rodrigues is coming in very-highly acclaimed, and is the best opponent Fairtex has faced with the exception of Janet Todd.
Prestige: 4: The 22-year old Stamp is one of ONE’s most prized fighters and a true homegrown star. She simultaneously held the Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai championships for ONE, while earning a 5-0 MMA record.
Viewing Ease: 5
1. Submission Underground Absolute Championship: Craig Jones vs. Mason Fowler
When/Where: Sunday, 6:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Juice: 4: This is the third meeting between the two. Fowler is holding the gold, will Jones reclaim it?
Prestige: 4: Any absolute championship of any kind is a badass title. It’s the ultimate prize.
Viewing Ease: 4