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.

 

t3. UFC Flyweight Championship: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) (19-1) vs. Alex Perez (24-5)

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

Competitiveness: 3: Perez seems very rushed to this spot. Whether it’s that they want to push the fact that the a fighter from the Contender Series has made it to a title fight to push the show for viewers, or to get a fresh face in there, but one win over Formiga does not a championship challenger make.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2: With the amount of huge fights that Top Rank is putting on ESPN for free, this is getting harder and harder to justify the $65 price tag.

Total: 15

 

t3. UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship: Valentina Shevchenko (c) (19-3) vs. Jennifer Maia (18-6-1)

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

Competitiveness: 3: I think the -1400 line is pretty absurd, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maia isn’t in Shevchenko’s league. She’s 3-2 in the UFC and losses to gatekeepers like Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagian do not a title contender make.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 2: Maia is a former Invicta Flyweight champion, but her toughest opponent lately has been the scale, missing weight two out of her last three fights. So we shall see!
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2

Total: 15

 

t3. Titan Fighting Championship Welterweight Championship: Mike Graves (c) (9-1-2) vs. Oton Jasse (20-6)

When/Where: Sunday, 3:00pm, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 4
Excitement: 3: Jasse has 17 submission wins in his career, and half of his losses are by submission. Live by the choke, die by the choke. Graves has a decent sub game, but this should be fun on the mat.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3: Graves is the rarity, but one I like seeing; an actual fighting regional champion. He’s making his second title defense.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 15

 

2. Vacant LFA Lightweight Championship: Arthur Estrazulas (12-4) vs. Nick Browne (10-1)

When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3: Last three LFA lightweight champions: Austin Hubbard, won and vacated after signing with UFC, Harvey Park, won and vacated because of injury, and Bryce Logan, won and vacated to sign with Bellator. Not exactly a great barometer for the title’s future.
Viewing Ease: 4: You can and should give the UFC lots of shit for lots of reasons, but they’re propping up a ton of regional promotions with their money and exposure during the pandemic.

Total: 17

 

1. Vacant Invicta Strawweight Championship: Emily Ducote (9-6) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (9-1)

When/Where: Friday, 8:00pm, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3: At their best, they can both be fun, fun, submission fighters. Will they go for it, or will they be too gunshy?
Juice: 2
Prestige: 4: As is the case in Invicta, that title is still warm while they sign their UFC contracts.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 18


View the original article on Undercard Superstar: The Ecstasy of Gold: 5 Best Title Fights of the Weekend