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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. UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship: Amanda Nunes (c) (21-4) vs. Julianna Pena (10-4)

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

Competitiveness: 3: I know the well isn’t nearly as deep as men’s lightweight, and Pena is a fine challenger I guess, but still, meh.
Excitement: 3: Every Nunes fight is either sudden horrific violence or if she’s bored, a plodding playing-with-her-food affair.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 14

 

4. WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO World Women’s Lightweight Championships: Katie Taylor (c) (19-0) vs. Firuza Sharipova (14-1)

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

Competitiveness: 3
Excitement: 3: Taylor is the best women’s boxer on the planet (non-Claressa Shields division), but Sharipova has enough pop to give her a literal puncher’s chance.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: For the undisputed lightweight crown.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16

 

3. WBA Super World Light Heavyweight Championship: Dmitry Bivol (c) (18-0) vs. Umar Salamov (26-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 7:00am, YouTube

Competitiveness: 4: Salamov has a much more respectable dance card than you see from many European world title challengers.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3: If you’re up early enough, it’s there for the watching.

Total: 17

 

t1. UFC Lightweight Championship: Charles Oliveira (c) (31-8) vs. Dustin Poirier (28-6)

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

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5: These are two of the most exciting fighters in any discipline in history. An absolute no-brainer.
Juice: 3: Interim aside, Poirier has never held a world championship. His starpower has never been higher, and he’s still only 32, but he failed in his first quest for a Lightweight world title, will be succeed this time?
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 20

 

t1. WBC World Bantamweight Championship: Nonito Donaire (c) (41-6) vs. Reymart Gaballo (24-0)

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

Competitiveness: 5: Interim champ faces reigning champ. The way it’s supposed to be. You listening, WBA?
Excitement: 5: Nonito is a treasure that we all need to appreciate more, because he’ll be missed when he hangs them up.
Juice: 2
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 20

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