MMA, BJJ, Boxing, Muay Thai, they all have a crazy amount of belts. (Don’t get me started on traditional martial arts and all their belts.) Every organisation and sanctioning body has a champion, we have state champions, regional champions, national champions, European champions, world champions and many more in between that I’m sure I’ve missed. Is it becoming a bit of a joke?
Let us focus on MMA and the industry leader in particular the UFC. What is going on there? It used to be widely accepted that the UFC champion was the best in the world, Fedor and Ben Askren may disagree, but even they seem to have lost the plot. Interim belts are now the norm depending on who is flavour of the month and who is generating money for the company.
How is Max Holloway, absolute legend and nothing but love for him, fighting for the 155lb belt against Dustin Poirier? By the way that IS an amazing fight. I don’t know Tony Ferguson’s current circumstances, but he has to be absolutely raging. Yeah, he may have personal shit going on, but why the need to rush the interim title? Why put a guy who’s never fought at 155lbs in the mix. I can’t help but think it’s the Conor McGregor effect. Ever since he arrived on the scene it has been complete madness!!! So entertaining, but a little nonsensical!
Then we go to 170lbs and we have Usman who has snatched the belt from an under par T.Woodley, but he got that shot ahead of an apparently healthy Colby Covington? Now Ben Askren is in the mix after his somewhat controversial victory over Robbie Lawler. If they pass over Colby for the next shot then what was the point in the interim title at all?
In fact, what IS the point in these interim titles??? Surely they should be eradicated and we just go back to number 1 contender days. Why does everyone need a belt? As a fan I care very little about the title, as an ex-fighter and a coach I understand how much titles mean to fighters, and before everyone gets mad, I just want to see the best people fight each other at the right time for the right reasons. I feel we have firmly moved across into the sports entertainment business now, where the big money fights will always take precedence over the most logical or deserved fights and to me that’s a little sad.
This is a prize fighting problem not an MMA problem. It’s the same across all combat sports without exception except maybe Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling. Competition BJJ is not doing too bad at getting the best guys fighting either.
Ohh and in closing, your BJJ belt only covers 2 inches of your ass, the rest is up to you to defend!!!