As many you have probably heard, Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II is official for UFC 202 on August 20.
If you haven’t, you can read all about it here.
Yet before Conor goes toe-to-toe with the man who snapped his undefeated UFC streak, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will square off at UFC 200 for the interim featherweight championship.
In other words, they’ll be fighting for the interim title in a division whose champion is perfectly capable of defending his title.
Does that really make sense, though?
(Yes, I am aware this question have been asked before, but being that McGregor vs Diaz is once again in the UFC’s future, it makes sense to ask it again.)
I don’t believe in interim championships. As far as I am concerned, if you can’t defend your title, you shouldn’t have it. The WBA requires champions to defend their titles within nine months. Because MMA is a significantly harder sport than boxing, I would say a year is reasonable.
Still, I can at least understand arguments as to why champions should be able to hold on to their titles if they are sidelined due to injury, surgery, or some other emergency beyond their control. I’m not convinced by them, but I am at least willing to listen.
I am also sympathetic to what UFC President Dana White once said: “We do [interim titles] when we don’t know when somebody’s going to come back or what’s going on.”
So why exactly are we doing an interim featherweight championship at UFC 200? We know when Conor is going to come back; he never left in the first place! We also know what is going on.
Is it because we need “a promise ring” (as MMA Fighting’s Chuck Mindenhall once put it) to guarantee that the number one contender gets a shot when the champion finally decides to do his job and defend his title?
Sounds good to me. But then, shouldn’t all number one contenders get interim belts? What makes Edgar and Aldo so special?
I know what many of you are thinking: “Shut the hell up, Chris! The interim title fight is going down whether you like it or not!”
And in your defense, you’re right.
But at the risk of sounding like a Captain Hindsight-esque character, it should not have gone down. Instead, the UFC should have made Aldo vs Edgar a number one contender match to face Conor McGregor sometime before the end of the year, which would have been a year after Conor won his title. If Conor doesn’t fight before the end of the year, Frankie and Aldo fight for the belt.
I think that makes much more sense.