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 week.
5. K-1 Super Featherweight Championship: Takeru (c) (41-2) vs. Leona Pettas (28-5-1)
When/Where: Sunday, 12:00am, Abema
Competitiveness: 3: Pettas has had a decent run in Krush, but he hasn’t faced anyone near Takeru’s level.
Viewing Ease: 1: (sigh) We can’t get any U.S. streaming service to pick up K-1?! It’s goddamned K-1! Remy Bojasky! Semmy Schilt! Cro Cop!!
4. Submission Underground Absolute Championship: Mason Fowler (c) vs. Richie Martinez
When/Where: Sunday, 6:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Competitiveness: 5: Fowler has been pretty unstoppable as Absolute champ. but Martinez is as game of a contender as they come.
Prestige: 4: Fowler has been a pretty terrific ambassador for this title and for SUG, appearing on most shows defending his title.
Viewing Ease: 4
3. WBC/WBO World Female Featherweight Championships: Amanda Serrano (c) (39-1-1) vs. Daniela Romina Bermudez (29-3-3)
When/Where: Thursday, 9:00pm, NBC Sports/Twitch
Excitement: 4: Women’s boxing isn’t known for power or excitement, but Serrano is the exception to the rule. She’s a terrific puncher and seems tor relish in it.
Viewing Ease: 4: Well done putting this on Twitch, as well. Very forward-thinking in a sport that isn’t always that.
2. UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (c) (20-3) vs. Francis Ngannou (15-3)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Pay-Per-View
Competitiveness: 5: Against all odds, their first encounter for the titles went to a decision. I have to imagine it won’t happen again.
Excitement: 4: Oddly, Ngannou accounts for only one of two decision defenses for Miocic.
Viewing Ease: 2
1. Interim WBC World Heavyweight Championship: Alexander Povetkin (c) (36-2-1) vs. Dillian Whyte (27-2)
When/Where: Saturday, 3:00pm, DAZN
Excitement: 5: Their fight last August was one of the fights and moments of the year, where Povetkin climbed off the canvas twice and pull a tremendous upset, knocking out Whyte in the fifth-round.
Juice: 4: Povetkin robbed Whyte from earning his first world title fight in their first encounter. Now Whyte has to drag his way back to contention.
Viewing Ease: 4