By TONY SHUCK
“To be the MAN, you have to BEAT the man!” As a wrestling fan, I’ve heard that line shouted a million times by the legendary Ric Flair. It’s a great line. I wish the UFC would live by it a little more. On December 10th, for the 12th time, an interim champion will be crowned. But what the hell is an interim champion anyway?
An interim title is made when the undisputed champion cannot compete for a prolonged period. The most common reason for an interim title is an injury that has forced the champion out of competition. Understandable, I guess. The show must go on, and there must be something to compete for. But that’s not why we’re having one on December 10th.
Here’s where it gets complicated.
Instead of defending his featherweight title at UFC 200, McGregor chose to fight Nate Diaz for a second time at 170 pounds. This forced the UFC to make an interim title fight that Jose Aldo won.
We all know McGregor made UFC history at UFC 205 when he became a two-division champion. Everyone knew McGregor would never defend the featherweight title. He cuts too much weight. It was inevitable that the UFC was going to force him to drop the featherweight title eventually.
On December 10th, Daniel Cormier was set to defend his light heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson. Cormier injured himself in training and was forced to withdraw from the card. In an asinine attempt to salvage a fight card, the UFC has decided to create a new interim title. Not for the light heavyweight division, where an injury took place, but for the featherweight division.
If you’re confused at this point, don’t worry, so is everybody else.
To make a new interim title, the UFC had to strip McGregor of his undisputed title and promote Aldo to the new undisputed champion.
This explains how Jose Aldo went from interim to undisputed. But I’m still having a hard time figuring out how or why Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis are fighting for an interim title.
Jose Aldo isn’t injured. He wants to fight. So what gives?
Every UFC main event is a five-round fight. Why not have Pettis and Holloway fight for a number one contender spot in a five-round affair? It’s the exact same thing. The only exception is that the UFC wouldn’t need to create a belt that has zero significance. Do you honestly think anyone believes that the winner of that fight is a “champion”?
I feel cheated. I feel insulted. Not because Cormier got hurt. It happens. The UFC is lying to me. They are trying to make me believe that a championship will be won on December 10th. They are questioning my intelligence, and yours as well. We all know this is a sham. Sadly, Holloway and Pettis know it too.
I hate interim titles. A title is supposed to mean something. It is supposed to be what everyone wants to fight for. Ric Flair taught me that. If you aren’t even fighting “The Man,” then how the hell do you become “The Man”?
(Tony Shuck, an avid MMA fanatic since 2002, has become an expert on the sport. The 34-year-old Indiana native is a veteran of the United States Army, serving between 2002-2006. He was deployed twice to Iraq (2003-2004, 2005-2006). He is married and lives in Denver. Tony has trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing. He is a student at the Colorado Media School, is a regular contributor to woodypaige.com and hosts his own MMA radio show on gomilehigh.com.)