Interim Championship – never been a big fan of Interim titles. I agree that sometimes it is inevitable to have an interim champion when the real champion is on a lengthy sabbatical. That being said, an interim lightweight title for the highly anticipated Khabib vs. Ferguson bout at UFC 209 makes no sense though.
For an interim title fight to take place, the rule commonly accepted by most fans and MMA experts is that the champion should have left the title undefended for at least a year. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
The lightweight title fight between Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor took place on November 12, 2016. This means that the interim championship fight between Khabib and Ferguson is going to take place in less than four months, and this makes no sense. With McGregor temporarily out of the picture due to his girlfriend’s pregnancy, Khabib vs. Ferguson is an inevitable fight that is bound to happen.
With all the recent commotions surrounding his potential boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, it is reasonable to believe that Conor won’t defend the title anytime soon. However, he deserves some time in my opinion.
If the lightweight championship goes undefended in 2017, we can have an interim (or undisputed) champion in 2018. Having an interim title fight in early 2017 doesn’t seem to be the best way to go here.
It is true that there are plenty of deserving lightweights who need a shot at the title. Still, it is too early for an interim championship. There are no hard and fast rules in the UFC when it comes to interim championships. In the past, there were champions who left their titles undefended for more than a year without having an interim champion in their divisions.
So, what changed? Many are blaming it on the new UFC ownership and their eagerness to sell more pay-per-views. Nothing wrong with their intention to make more money. However, handing out interim titles like raffle tickets is more likely to bring down the popularity of a championship.
I couldn’t think of anyone better than Khabib and Ferguson in the lightweight division to have a shot at the lightweight gold. With or without the interim championship, Khabib vs. Ferguson is still a major draw for the UFC. This could very well be a title eliminator rather than an interim championship.
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