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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. IBF/WBO World Female Junior Lightweight Championships: Maiva Hamadouche (c) (22-1) vs. Mikaela Mayer (c) (15-0)

When/Where: Friday, 7:55pm, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 4: Hamadouche has never fought outside of Europe and has mostly fought middling ham-and-eggers.
Excitement: 2
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: World title vs. world title! Yes, please!
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16

 

4. WBA Super/WBC/WBO/IBF World Super Middleweight Championships: Saul Alvarez (c) (56-1-2) vs. Caleb Plant (21-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 3: Remember when Canelo slipped Plant’s sucker punch in a suit and dotted him up? That was hysterical.
Prestige: 5: For the first-ever unified super middleweight champion.
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 18

 

3. Vacant Bellator Lightweight Championship: Patricky Freire (23-10) vs. Peter Queally (13-5-1)

When/Where: Friday, 5:00pm, Showtime

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5
Juice: 3: This is a rematch from Bellator 258 when Queally stopped Pitbull after a second-round doctor stoppage.
Prestige: 3: A vacated title after Patricky’s more talented twin brother vacated it.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 19

 

t1. UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship: Rose Namajunas (c) (10-4) vs. Zhang Weili (21-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN+ Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5: The Strawweight triumvirate of Namajunas-Weili-and Jedrejczyk continue to exchange the belt back and forth.
Excitement: 5: Neither are really capable of a boring fight, and Rose did this to Zhang last time they faced each other.
Juice: 3
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 20

 

t1. UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (c) (19-1) vs. Colby Covington (16-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN+ Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 4: What, exactly, has Covington shown that indicates this fight will go any differently at all from their first contest? Fading Tyron Woodley? Over a year ago? No.
Excitement: 5: Their first fight was an absolute banger, and Covington is stubborn enough to think, “well, if maybe I pressure Usman MORE…”
Juice: 4
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 20

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