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Will we see an interim title created for the UFC Light Heavyweight division?

By Zach Arnold | July 28, 2010

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KENNY RICE: “We’re talking about the interim belt. Do you fans want to see this? I mean, after all, you’re not quite the champion. The champ is either sidelined because of an injury or a contract dispute or something along those lines. And it’s going right now in the UFC. There is the Light Heavyweight title to talk about. Shogun Rua is sidelined probably until February of next year. Now, does that mean Rashad Evans should wait as he says he wants to after he beat Rampage Jackson and get the fight with the champion? Forget that interim belt, he wants to take it away from Shogun. OR… as Lyoto Machids’as agent is saying right now, there should be an interim fight, and actually he wants his man Machida to fight Rampage or fight the guy that beat Rampage, Rashad Evans. It gets a little confusing. What do you think about it? Here’s a great viewer submission to get it started. It comes from Tampa, Florida, from Devin Rodriguez.

‘What’s the deal with interim titles? Why create a fake belt? Do you think it’s fair to the number 1 contender? I know if I was in their situation, I wouldn’t want to take the chance of giving up my shot at the title.’

“What do you think about this ‘I’m in the middle of things, I’m sort of the champ but I’m not really not with the belt?’ ”

BAS RUTTEN: “Interim fight? Awesome. Totally understandable. Preparing yourself for a five-round fight, got it. Interim belt? You know, imagine you’re the interim champion and then you fight for the real belt and then you don’t win it. You know? What are you going to say to people? Yeah, I used to be the interim champion belt holder. I mean, c’mon. Now, I really don’t see that. Maybe only you’re allowed to say that if you then later on go on and win the world title. That’s the only thing. I’m with the viewer submission there.”

KENNY RICE: “I agree. You know, the one thing, too, if this should and we don’t know who exactly it’s going to shake out, but while Rua is sitting out nursing injury, trying to get healthy again to fight in February, I like Rashad Evans wanting to fight him. And if Machida does get a fight with Rampage, who lost to Evans, it would be the same as when we were talking about on here why Fedor didn’t fight Alistair Overeem in Strikeforce. It would be the same with the UFC. What’s the purpose of having that if Evans doesn’t want to participate in an interim championship, why even have one at that stage? Jamie, let me start with you because you’ve been involved in this. You fought the guy, Ben Henderson, who unified the belt basically while you were on the sideline and he was the WEC interim champ. Is it a good thing? Does it matter?”

JAMIE VARNER: “No, I think interim belts are just fake belts. I like, you know, what Bas said. Yeah, you know having going through that five-round war is definitely good because you’re not used to it. I mean, my very first time going five rounds was Cerrone was, it’s tough, I mean it’s definitely a life-changing experience to go five rounds and be caught up in a battle like that. But I think it’s kind of disrespectful to the champion, you know? I worked really hard for that fight with Rob McCullough and you know, I mean that fight was everything. So to have it disrespected, to have these two guys, yeah they were top contenders, but I got injured in the line of work. It would have been one thing had I gotten injured like outside riding my motorcycle or something like that, but no I got injured with my fight with Cerrone, you know, doing my job, and you know I was sidelined for about a year. So the fact that, you know, I felt like it was just a little bit disrespectful, but you know what? Ben did come back, he beat me, so now he is the Lightweight champion. So, I mean, you can see it from both ends. But I just think it’s kind of disrespectful to the champion at the time.”

BAS RUTTEN: “And it’s funny that you say that because I had that feeling, too, with Frank (Mir) was also, he was the interim champion. I was going like, why would they create a belt suddenly and then give it? I thought it was disrespectful at the time.”

KENNY RICE: “Shane (Del Rosario), on the other side of the coin there, if you’re coming up as you are now, you’re still undefeated. If Strikeforce came to you and let’s say there’s a vacated Heavyweight title, OK, in a hypothetical world and they said we want you to step in and fight for the interim title while Alistair’s resting or whatever. You almost have to take it if your organization is saying you got to do this, don’t you?”

SHANE DEL ROSARIO: “Yeah, I mean I guess it would be smart from that perspective financially, but I mean still the champ is the champ and you can’t really call yourself one until you beat them and you know I could see how maybe it prevents from stagnancy in the weight classes, you know, if a champ’s out for a long time, but you know a matter of six months, you know, I don’t think it’s that long to where you need to create another belt and you know you just can’t feel good about being a belt holder if you’re not beating the guy that’s #1.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “Will we see an interim title created for the UFC Light Heavyweight division?”

  1. edub says:

    Boo interim titles. Yay beer.

    I think we can all agree Zuffa does all the interim titles strictly for business purposes right?(An interim title fight sells a lot better than a #1 contender match, but I don’t have any proof of that).

    It seems like Zuffa does interim titles almost 2-1 compared to other promotions too< or so it seems…

    • Steve4192 says:

      “It seems like Zuffa does interim titles almost 2-1 compared to other promotions too”

      Of course they do. They have been around longer, have more frequent shows, and place more emphasis on championships than any other promoter in the business. 90% of the promoters currently in the sport didn’t even exist when Andrei Arlovski won the interim title back in 2005. Of the promoters who popped up since 2005, none of them revolve around their belts as much as Zuffa. Hell, Strikeforce was running shows for over a year before they even bothered to to crown champs in most of their divisions, and once they did they allowed the MW & HW champ to walk away with the belts for nearly two years before doing anything about it.

      It makes perfect sense that Zuffa uses interim titles more than any other promoter.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Interim belts are pointless. But as long as they are quickly unified with the real belt once the real champion gets health…. There is little harm in them. All they are really doing is giving an additional 2 rounds to the #1 contenders fight.

    But really, the less belts the better. If Zuffa got rid of interim belts and the WEC Lightweight Title, I would be okay with that.

    The only time an interim belt should be used is when it is in doubt that the champion can return within 1 year of his last fight.

  3. EJ says:

    There is nothing wrong with interim titles, they’ve been used plenty of times in the UFC before and will do so again in the future. I have no clue why people get so emotional over an interim title, shit happens and you can’t just keep the top fighters in limbo because the champion is hurt or in a contract dispute. Life moves on and the second that the UFC an unify the titles they do so in the end we don’t lose out on anything and actually gain something from what would be a dead time with a title being on the line.

  4. Mr.Roadblock says:

    There is a time and place for interim titles. But right now in the UFC LHW division is not it.

    Shogun will be able to fight next March. That’s really just a long layoff. Evans, Machida and Rampage aren’t going to fight twice in that period of time. So all that is happening is Evans is delaying one fight/pay day which was his choice.

    The Machida/Rampage winner will have a long wait before he gets a title shot, but it’s OK. If Machida likes to fight so much lets see if he takes a fight between now and his title shot if/when he beats Rampage. I suspect he won’t.

    The UFC LHW division is very exciting right now and has been since the PRIDE acquisition. But the belt has changed constantly and adding an interim champion could cheapen it to the point of being a joke.

    If it hadn’t been for Shogun getting robbed in the 1st Machida fight the belt would have changed hands without being defended 4 straight times.

    The division needs to settle down. Let it work itself out. Do Shogun/Evans then let Rampage/Machida establish a #1 contender and let the rest of the division sort itself out.

    • edub says:

      They’re all just holding the title for Bones anyway. That guy beats any of the big four at the top of 205 right now IMO.

  5. IceMuncher says:

    No interim title please. I say that, but the UFC has been pretty good about minimizing the times they pull it out, so I don’t see it happening. I think Forrest had a situation where he got injured and the title wasn’t on the line for almost an entire year.

    Iirc, the only recent interim titles the UFC created were for GSP vs Hughes 3, which was a rubber match between the #1 and #2 WW’s of all time (worth an exception), then another one because of Couture and his contract dispute, and then they had one when Brock looked like he was about to die. They don’t pull it out for a regular injury, otherwise we’d have 4 interim titles at the end of last year.

  6. Matthew says:

    I am noty sure what the big deal with the interim belt is. If shogun is injured why would Evens not just fight the winner of Machida and Rampage? If Evens is good enough to be Shogun then he should be able to beat Machida or Rampage and then fight Shogun when he is healed.

    I would think it would favor the holder of the interim title as they would have been more active vs not fight for 8 months to a year.

  7. Recently the WBC instituted “Silver Titles” for fights that were considered to be important but not good enough to be true world title bouts. From the perspective of business, its smart for them. I mean, those fights will draw more eyes because they are for “world titles”, they collect more sanctioning fees, everyone wins. Except, of course, the legitimacy of the sport.

    Let these dudes fight out. Machida/Rampage is an incredible fight. Jon Jones is being brought along well. Noguiera is in the mix. Forrest Griffin is in the mix. Why go making new belts to cloudy up that picture and take away from Shogun while he’s gone?

  8. robthom says:

    I completely understand the animosity towards interim belts.

    But for some reason they dont bother me?!

    Looking back, I think it goes back to Randy vs. Tito and tito holding the LHW strap hostage for an extended period during his campaign to refuse Chuck.

    MMA is an active sport!
    This is the advantage over stale, allegedly confrontational sports like boxing.

    James Toney deserves ALL the respect in the world for following through!

    (He’s crazy!! God love him!)

    Unfortunately, it wont prove a thing to boxing adherents.
    If that’s what your expecting.

    MMA is a working sport!


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