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 King of Kings Heavyweight Championship: Michal Turinsky (32-15) vs. Reinis Porozovs (15-4-1)
When/Where: Friday, 6:00pm, KOKFights.tv
Competitiveness: 4: #1 ranked in KOK (Turinsky) vs. #4 (Porozovs)
Juice: 2: Latvia vs. Poland for the heavyweight crown of one of, if not the most prominent European kickboxing promotion.
Viewing Ease: 2
t2. Invicta FC Atomweight Championship: Alesha Zappitella (c) (8-2) vs. Jessica Correa Delboni (10-2)
When/Where: Friday, 8:00pm, AXS
Excitement: 3: These two are decision machines, BUT in Zappitella’s last fight, she slapped on a Von Flue choke in the championship rounds to capture the vacant title.
Viewing Ease: 3: MMA returns to AXS!
t2. Lion Fight North American Super Cruiserweight Championship: Steve Walker (c) (9-0) vs. Devorius Tubbs (5-2)
When/Where: Friday, 7:30pm, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 4: “Put ‘Em To Sleep” is Walker’s nickname for a reason.
Prestige: 2: Walker is their world champion, but he’s defending his secondary belt.
Viewing Ease: 4
t2. Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship: Cris Cyborg (c) (23-2) vs. Leslie Smith (12-8-1)
When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, Showtime
Competitiveness: 2: Well, they fought almost five years ago to the date, and it wasn’t particularly close. I doubt it’ll be closer now that Smith is five years older.
Excitement: 3: Well, I mean, it’ll probably be brief and slightly uncomfortable.
Viewing Ease: 3
1. WBA Super/WBC/WBO/IBF World Junior Welterweight Championships: Jose Carlos Ramirez (c) (26-0) vs. Josh Taylor (17-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 8:30pm, ESPN
Competitiveness: 5: Undefeated double-champ Ramirez takes on undefeated double-champ Taylor.
Prestige: 5: The winner is the unified welterweight champion of this world. That’s some prestige.
Viewing Ease: 4