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. Interim Bellator Heavyweight Championship: Timothy Johnson (15-6) vs. Valentin Moldavsky (10-1)
When/Where: Friday, Showtime, 9:00pm
Excitement: 3: Johnson tends to live and die by the KO, but Moldavsky is much more nuanced and patient.
Prestige: 2: Winner stays on deck until Ryan Bader finishes his run in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Viewing Ease: 3
4. WBC World Flyweight Championship: Julio Cesaro Martinez (c) (17-1) vs. Joel Cordova (12-4-2)
When/Where: Saturday, 7:00pm, DAZN
Competitiveness: 2: I can’t find a single top-50 win that Cordova has on his dance card.
Prestige: 5: Interesting that on a weekend with names like Lomachenko, Lubin, Rosario, Barrios, and Gervonta Davis, that this is the only true boxing world championship on the line.
Viewing Ease: 4
t1. WBA Regular Junior Welterweight Championship: Mario Barrios (c) (26-0) vs. Gervonta Davis (24-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, Pay-Per-View
Prestige: 4: Death to the WBA and their “Regular” titles.
Viewing Ease: 2: Definitely not a $75 card to me.
t1. Submission Underground Women’s Absolute Championship: Amanda Loewen (c) vs. Raquel Canuto
When/Where: Sunday, 6:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 4: Loewen and Canuto both look for subs, and look early. They’re not afraid to send the crowd home nice and early.
Juice: 2: Canuto earned her shot here, clamping on a guillotine on Gillian Robertson in 30 seconds of a number one contender’s bout at SUG 23.
Viewing Ease: 4
t1. Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship Heavyweight Championship: Joey Beltran (c) (4-1-1) vs. Sam Shewmaker (4-1-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, Fite TV
Competitiveness: 5: A true reigning and defending champion against a true, main-eventer, number-one contender. As true of a real champion vs. #1 challenger in BKFC as you’ll probably see.
Prestige: 3: Still the marquee title in all of Bare Knuckle.
Viewing Ease: 3