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

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

Combat

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

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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 LFA Light Heavyweight Championship: Fabio Cherant (6-1) vs. Myron Dennis (18-7)

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

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 3: Cherant is a submission ace and can slap on a number of them.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 2: LFA titles are hot potatoes, you touch it just long enough to sign your big-league deal.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 14

 

t3. WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship: Patrick Teixeira (c) (31-1) vs. Brian Carlos Castano (16-0-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, DAZN

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 2: Neither of these two have fought in 15 months, sooooo we might be in for a bunch of rounds knocking off the rust.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: This is how interim titles are supposed to work, Teixeira was the interim WBO champion, who then got elevated to world champion. This isn’t an excuse to have three champions per division, WBA.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16

 

t3. IBF World Junior Lightweight Championship: Joseph Diaz (c) (31-1) vs. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, DAZN

Competitiveness: 3: Rakhimov will be a capable challenger down the road, but I think it might be a bit too much right now. He was the IBO champ at 130lbs, but he lacks even a marginally good win.
Excitement: 3: The young challenger has absolute dynamite in his hands, and while Diaz isn’t one for a bombing, he can make it interesting.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16

 

2. UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (c) (17-1) vs. Gilbert Burns (19-3)

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

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 3: Usman is impossible to gauge as far as what kind of fight you’re going to get. Will he give you a firefight like he did with Colby Covington, or will there be a lot of clinching and foot-stomping like against Jorge Masvidal. Usman fights incredibly smart, which is great for him, but not always for the viewing public.
Juice: 3: Seven months later after we were supposed to get it, and two postponements later, we’re finally (fingers crossed) getting Usman-Burns.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 17

 

1. Vacant WBO World Light Heavyweight Championship: Joe Smith Jr. (26-3) vs. Maxim Vlasov (45-3)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 2: After 77 combined professional bouts and multiple failed world title challenges, either Smith or Vlasov is walking away a legitimate world champion.
Prestige: 4: This was the championship that Canelo defeated Sergey Kovalev for, then promptly abandoned because he didn’t want to fight at light heavyweight anymore.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 18

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