Can we have more UFC interim titles?
There seems to be a very real and probably justified dislike of Interim belts among fighters and fans, So this might not go down well but there is a clear need for a policy on injured UFC Champions which targets the issue of long-term injuries and what effects that has on a division.
Being Interim Champ means little to fighters who want to prove their the best and be paid like they are the best, but what it does do is keep the division moving! Look at the Bantamweight division when Dominic Cruz picked up his injury. Once Barao became Interim champ the division came to life once again with fighters again having a target to aim for.
Should Champions be forced to give up their belts or accept an Interim if they are out for more than a year?
What good is a division with no Champion? Fighters climb the ladder with one goal in sight, to reach the top. But what if the top had been removed and you didn’t know when it was coming back? That’s a long boring time waiting on a ladder folks and nobody wants that!
When a Champ is out for over a year a mandatory Interim belt should be put in place. This gives fighters a goal to aim for and when the Champ comes back there is a mouthwatering Champion vs Champion scenario.
Another UFC Interim Title On The Line
Cain Velasquez recently re-injured himself ahead of his fight against Werdum, the UFC brass decided to make an interim belt which Werdum and Mark Hunt will now battle for.
Ignore the fact the UFC probably did this because it is their first time going to Mexico and they needed a title fight to make it somewhat interesting, this is the right move and the answer to injured Champions.
Fighters get injured, that’s part of the game but look at it like this. When a Champ is healthy and the division is free-flowing contenders line up and there’s nearly always an exciting match to get the juices flowing right around the corner.
But, when a champ has a sustained period on the sideline these top contenders have nowhere to turn but into each other and when their done beating the stuffing out of each other there’s one left!
Which can be good, everybody wants to see the best rise to the top, but now what happens if the Champ destroys said contender, which happens more often than not! Now there is nobody left.
And the Champ faces more time waiting for Contenders to climb the ranks or else they go for a Jon Jones vs Chael Sonnen match-up thing which nobody wants again!
At present four UFC Champions are injured or on the way back from injury, Cain Velasquez, Chris Weidman, Johnny Hendricks and Anthony Pettis. Of these Velasquez and Pettis is the sideline the longest, with Cain out for over a year and after re-injuring himself could face longer.
And Pettis has never defended his belt since winning it in August of 2013, the man he defeated Ben Henderson has fought three times since. Pettis is slated to make his long-awaited return in December against Gilbert Melendez which should be nothing short of awesome!
The Effect On New Followers
New followers of the sport might never have seen Velasquez fight, how crazy is that? That’s especially true here in Ireland as the sport is relatively new and with Conor McGregor taking off MMA has become incredibly trendy in Irish circles, but only in the last year or so, all the time Cain has been sitting on the sidelines!
What would be wrong with putting in time frames where if a Champ is out a year an interim belt is created and it goes to 18 months he gets stripped of it ala Dom Cruz?
The model of the UFC, as I see it anyway, is that the best in the World continually fight the best to become Champion or stay Champion. And if the UFC does not combat this issue the excitement of watching the Worlds best will fade with the competition.
Image courtesy of Imgarcade.com