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

 

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. WBC Silver Junior Welterweight Championship: Jose Zepeda (c) (34-2) vs. Josue Vargas (19-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 6:55pm, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 2: Vargas is still awaiting his first signature win, but Zepeda is still a couple levels above him.
Excitement: 4: If Zepeda is engaged, he’s capable of Fight of the Year fireworks.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 2
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 13

 

4. WBA “Regular” World Welterweight Championship: Jamal James (c) (27-1) vs. Radzhab Butaev (13-0)

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

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 2
Juice: 3: Butaev challenged for this very same championship in November of 2019, going the distance and losing a close decision for Alexander Besputin, however the result was changed after Besputin tested positive for banned substances. Now he gets his crack at it again.
Prestige: 3: WBA wants to get rid of their multiple world championships…by promoting interim champion James to “regular” world champion. Sure.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 15

 

3. Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship: Cory Sandhagen (14-3) vs. Petr Yan (15-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 2:00pm, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 4: Still waiting on Aljamain Sterling to put up the gold he won by DQ.
Viewing Ease: 4: Free(ish) Pay-Per-View! Haven’t gotten one of these in a hot minute.

Total: 18

 

2. WBC/IBF World Women’s Junior Welterweight Championships: Chantelle Cameron (c) (14-0) vs. Mary McGee (c) (27-3)

When/Where: Saturday, 2:00pm, DAZN

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 3
Prestige: 5: World title vs. world title baby!
Viewing Ease: 4: Unfortunate scheduling as it’s going up against a free(ish) UFC Pay-Per-View.

Total: 20

 

1. UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Jan Blachowicz (c) (28-8) vs. Glover Teixeira (32-7)

When/Where: Saturday, 2:00pm, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 5: Teixeira bulldozed two former title challengers brutally to get another crack at the title.
Excitement: 5
Juice: 3: Glover is now 42 and took a seven-and-a-half-year journey to get another shot at the UFC world title. This is probably his last chance to be atop the light heavyweight mountain.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 22

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