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UFC 265 preview: Mild reminder that interim titles are silly (and everybody hates them)

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Subheads are stupid … and they have been stupid for years.

Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane will clash for the interim heavyweight championship in the UFC 265 Pay-Per-View (PPV) Main Event taking place this Saturday. Night (August 7, 2021) at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

as true as it can be

Would anyone consider Lewis or Gane a champion regardless of who wins?

Francis Ngannou captured the £ 265 crown in March with a thundering knockout win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, but the promotion still hates Ngannou wasn’t interested in waiting for The Predator to end its lengthy vacation.

So instead it will develop a new heavy-fake champion.

“We’re all part of the problem,” said Eddie Alvarez, former UFC lightweight title holder, during a media day of the ONE Championship. “When an interim title is awarded and the media makes a fuss about it and a fighter makes a fuss about it and the fans make a fuss about it, an intertitle has value. That is the saddest thing that can happen in sport. “

Perhaps second saddest when you consider this.

UFC President Dana White once yelled at sports reporter Kevin Iole for criticizing subtitles and insisted that this was the only way to book Dustin Poirier against Max Holloway for 25 minutes – even though all headliners get five rounds anyway – and at the same time “The Diamond” and “Blessed” a piece of the PPV cake.

“A provisional title will be awarded as a substitute for money,” countered Alvarez. “We don’t want to give you any money, but we will give you a provisional title. We don’t want to give you any money, but we will give you a main event spot. We don’t want to give you money, but we will give you the opponent you want. We give you everything except what you deserve, and that is money. “

Which Ngannou continues to elude.

It may be reasonable to suggest that Alvarez chew on sour grapes after he retires from the UFC, but even current competitors like Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, widely considered the nicest guy on the list, accepted the promotion because of his casual approach Gold to talk about.

“It almost diminishes the value of the title because they just kicked it out – it’s like, ‘You can sure fight for an intertitle,'” Thompson previously told Bloody Elbow. “I don’t know what the UFC is playing or what they think when it comes to the subtitle, but they just say, ‘You can fight for it anytime. Anyone can fight for an intertitle. ‘”

Good, almost anyone.

The silliness of the championship this weekend is compounded by the fact that Ngannou will be ready to compete before the end of the year, adding value to the longstanding argument that most interim titles are designed to be punitive.

“Interim belts are not worth the leather they are printed on,” former champion Michael Bisping told OddsBible. “An interim belt is a joke… but it’s the UFC’s choice, and if that’s what they want, it’s good for them. You have to sell pay-per-view. “

Miocic stopped Junior dos Santos at UFC 211 back in May 2017, but didn’t return to defend his title until the following January. Oddly enough, there was no dialogue about replacement belts and no one from the UFC front office had to defend the position of champion.

Surprising when you consider the long history of the promotion with subtitles in the heavyweight division.

“I’ve had the interim belt before and this little interim specification bothers me,” Carlos Condit told the media, looking back on his 170-pound run. “My belt is in my son’s room and this is not the right belt for me. If I go out there and I hit [the champion], that would be a legitimate, undisputed UFC title belt and you can’t reach a higher height in sport. “

Bellator MMA is also guilty of jumping on the intermediate train.

The quickest way to devalue the heavyweight title is to destroy its lineage. Instead of a finite timeline, we now have a championship multiverse with titles popping up everywhere and alternate stories emerging along the way.

Champions should be expected to defend their titles within a reasonable time and if they cannot or will not do so they should be withdrawn. This may sound unfair to athletes who are injured or unable to show up due to external factors, but isn’t that what it means to be a champion?

“The idea of ​​an intertitle … doesn’t make me too happy,” Sean Sherk told MMA Weekly in 2007 after the fight was announced. “I just have to fight whoever wins this fight. If anyone wants to wrap that belt around their waist and call themselves champion, it should be me. Otherwise it’s just a little wrong belt. “

The UFC “champion” model is not about what you did or who you beat, it is about timing, circumstances and politics. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time and be smart enough (or lucky enough) to capitalize on it.

Creating a tentative title for Lewis vs. Gane suggests a win at UFC 265 – and becoming the clear contender for number 1 – is not enough to promote that card or any future title bout against Ngannou, given that with it related talent is a shame.

“Of course, I’m a huge fan of the UFC, I love them to death,” said UFC color commentator Joe Rogan on his official podcast. “I would never want to work for another organization. But I don’t like the way they do things. There are a lot of things that I don’t like. Some matchups don’t make sense. Subheads are absurd. “

Sorry, Neil.


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