The almost champ
With MMAfighting.com and other sources confirming that Khabib Nurmagomedov will be fighting Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson for the 155 interim belt at UFC 209, it begs the question – are interim titles necessary?
The short answer is yes, when used correctly. In the event a champion can’t compete for injury or other outstanding reasons then it’s good for the sport to have a title that the active fighters can aspire to. However, the way it has been used lately is anything but.
With Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo set to fight for the interim belt on the same card as the actual champion at the time Conor McGregor, it got to the point of ludicrousy. Why not just fight for the #1 contendership you say? Because of PPV numbers, that’s why.
Just as with the recent Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis fight back in December at UFC 206, the interim belt is now used as a cheap marketing ploy to attract casual fans and save dying cards in order to drive up PPV numbers. Is there anything wrong with that? Not necessarily, but it’s a realization that MMA fans have yet to come to terms with.
The acquisition of the UFC to WME-ING for 4 billion dollars was a very expensive venture. Its rumored this the company is now behind the 8-ball and this is the reason for the almost crackhead like money grab. This means “big money fights” and a gangbuster of interim titles are in the foreseen future.
While the MMA purist will always despise anything done solely for marketing purposes, the side effect of increased interim title belts are more 5 round fights. When it seems like a match is just heating up in the 3rd round, we now get to see 2 more rounds of action. Which after the mandatory making of all main events 5 rounds, we can all agree is a good thing. However, some are calling for all main and co-main events to be made 5 round fights so the implementation of this Tom Foolery wouldn’t be necessary. While I wouldn’t mind seeing all main card fights go five rounds, we’ll have to see how this interim title thing plays out.
What do you guys think of Interim title situation in the UFC, a necessary evil or should it only be used for extenuating circumstances?
Lionel Harris-Spence is a writer, filmmaker, and functioning alcoholic. You can catch him screaming obscenities at flat screens on fight night.