The UFC has been crowning a lot of interim champions of late. In fact, it crowned two new interim champions at UFC 236 last weekend, as Dustin Poirier defeated Max Holloway to win the interim lightweight title, and Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum to win the interim middleweight title.
Unfortunately, these interim title belts often amount to little more than number one contender belts, guaranteeing the interim a champion a shot at the true, undisputed champion. Sometimes, they don’t even accomplish that — see the cases of Colby Covington and Tony Ferguson.
Given these drawbacks, some fans have been very critical of the UFC’s choice to crown so many interim champions.
As ever UFC President Dana White is happy to defend this choice.
“I’m going to tell you because I’m going to take another swing at the idiots that don’t like interim belts, there’s probably some of you in this room, too,” White said at the UFC 236 post-fight press conference (transcript via MMA News). “But here’s the reality — when more is on the line — could you imagine if Israel Adesanya versus Kelvin Gastelum was a three round co-main event? Even the Poirier fight, the main event if it wasn’t a five round fight. These titles mean something to them.
“So when you go in there and there’s a belt on the line and you know what’s next.”
Dana White continued:
“It’s about what’s on the line,” White said. “You know how bad Israel wanted to win that fight? You know how bad Gastelum wanted to win that fight? Watch it. Watch the fight. That’s how bad they both wanted it. There’s real stakes. There’s something on the line. Now if you’re Israel Adesanya, you’re lined up — we had to wait for Gastelum before and we had to wait for Whittaker to come back — now Israel Adesanya comes out and he’s got a belt, he already beat Gastelum, he doesn’t have to wait for Gastelum and he gets pay-per-view [points]. How does this not make sense to anybody?
“Israel Adesanya was on vacation,” White added. “He left vacation to come take this fight because he understands what’s at stake here and what he can get. The same thing for Max, you heard Max all week, he wanted to be a double champ, he wants legacy, he wants people to know his name when he’s long gone and he wants two belts and there’s more money involved in that, too.”
What are your thoughts on the UFC’s frequent use of interim titles? Do you agree with Dana White?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/17/2019.