As the UFC embarks on its latest calender of fights entitled “Unstoppable”, many questions have been directed at the company for its liberal use of Interim Titles and making fights that make more business sense than fighting sense. The introduction of Interim Titles certainly can de-value the Undisputed Title should it fall into the wrong hands and with fighters such as McGregor being given fights that make no sense on paper, one may fall into the trap of believing that the UFC is going away from what it’s about, finding the best pound for pound fighters and pitting them against each other.
Hypothetically, Jon Jones loses to OSP and the UFC loses one of the biggest rematches in its history and Daniel Cormier’s title’s legitimacy is de-valued further, with many people already suggesting that Jon Jones never lost the title, so it was never DC’s to have in the first place. Hypothetically Diaz defeats McGregor in even more magnanimous fashion than the first time, seriously damaging the drawing power of the UFC’s current biggest draw. So the question; Is the UFC setting itself up for a huge fall?
The simple answer is no. The marketing behind each Interim title, in the Light Heavyweight and Featherweight division makes perfect sense. Daniel Cormier has been judged from the moment he won the title and his legitimacy as Champion has been questioned. As he is unable to defend his title in two weeks it makes perfect sense to keep Jon Jones on the card and not risk damaging the card even further. The UFC has learned from past mistakes at how to handle big injuries in the build up to title fights and Main Events. Should Jones win it sets up a much more marketable Champion v Champion fight, which the masses already saw the fight as anyway.
Should the unthinkable happen and OSP beats Jon Jones, while it does immediately de-value the Light Heavyweight Title itself, it would be undone by any result when OSP and DC meet. It would create another superstar in OSP and Jones will always be able to fight his way back to the top, quickly.
At Featherweight the introduction of the Interim Title is because like many others in the know, the UFC are unsure as to whether McGregor returns to 145lbs again. Add that uncertainty to his decision to take two fights outside his own division after winning the title and the fact that there are so many contenders, it would be senseless of the UFC to hold up the Featherweight division any longer.
As for the “money fights”, that McGregor sees himself in and that GSP has been linked to, it has to be noted that this is still prize fighting and the fans love to see fights that normally don’t make sense. The UFC are starting to learn that these fights sell, hence the introduction of Cyborg to the UFC. For so long the UFC brass had been pressuring Cyborg to make 135lbs to come to the UFC but now they welcome catchweight bouts and are starting to see the value in Prize Fights.
So not only are the UFC not about to damage themselves by making fights that would have been considered outside their wheel house before, they are learning from past mistakes and going from strength to strength.