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. ONE Heavyweight Championship: Brandon Vera (c) (16-8) vs. Arjan Bhullar (10-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 6:00am, B/R Live
Competitiveness: 4: Bhullar went 3-1 in the UFC and was on the way up before he decided to sign with ONE.
Excitement: 2: Bhullar is a wrestler by trade, and his fights tend to be very decision-y.
Viewing Ease: 2
4. RISE Women’s Mini Flyweight Championship: Hinata Terayama (c) (18-2-1) vs. AKARI (7-0)
When/Where: Sunday, 1:00am, Abema
Juice: 3: AKARI won the “Next Queen” of Mini Flyweight tournament. You really can’t get any more on the nose for a contender.
Viewing Ease: 2: The time and platform isn’t ideal, but you take what you can get.
3. Vacant Titan Fighting Championship Welterweight Championship: Carlos Matos (8-0) vs. Dilano Taylor (5-1)
When/Where: Friday, 8:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 5: 12 combined wins, 10 combined finishes.
Juice: 2: It’s a home game for Matos, fighting in his home of the Dominican Republic.
Viewing Ease: 4
2. Vacant UFC Lightweight Championship: Charles Oliveira (30-8) vs. Michael Chandler (22-5)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Pay-Per-View
Excitement: 5: Oh, my. These two bring it every single fight. Styles make fights, and these two are different fighters, but they can have an entertaining scrap with anybody.
Prestige: 4: It’s going to take a while for the Lightweight belt not to be thought of as Khabib’s belt.
Viewing Ease: 2
1. WBC/WBA Regular Junior Featherweight Championships: Brandon Figueroa (c) (21-0-1) vs. Luis Nery (31-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, Showtime
Excitement: 5: I would be personally STUNNED if this isn’t a barnburner.
Prestige: 5: At least Nery’s legitimate world title is on the line. To hell with the WBA’s “regular” titles.
Viewing Ease: 3