Who’s the Real Champion?

I spent the weekend watching a great deal of mixed martial arts and boxing this weekend, as I attended a UFC event live, watched another UFC event on television, as well as a Bellator event and a boxing match on Saturday.  After watching combatants compete for the UFC “interim” featherweight championship, as well as boxing’s IBF heavyweight championship, it made decide to share my opinion on the current drama in the respective weight classes.

Who is the UFC Featherweight Champion?

Well, if you’re a fan of mixed martial arts or just a casual follower of the UFC, you know that Conor McGregor won the UFC’s featherweight title back a year ago today.  But he never defended the title, having fought twice at welterweight against Nate Diaz, and capturing the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez, and he recently vacated the featherweight title (whether he was stripped of the title by the UFC, or he voluntarily relinquished the belt is up for debate, but the moral of the story is that he’s not officially the UFC’s featherweight champion anymore).

So now the UFC recognizes Jose Aldo as their featherweight champion, the long-time champion who lost his title to McGregor, and the man who won the original version of the “interim” championship at UFC 200 in July when he defeated Frankie Edgar.  Aldo was promoted to the undisputed champion when McGregor vacated the title.  So then in the meantime, Max Holloway defeated Anthony Pettis for the new version of the “interim” championship on Saturday night at UFC 206.  So at the moment, Aldo is the “undisputed” champion and Holloway is the “interim” champion.  But in my opinion, the title is still vacant, and when Aldo and Holloway do fight to unify their two titles, that’s a when a new real champion will be crowned in my opinion.

The way I view things, is that the UFC without possibly realizing it made a mini four-man tournament consisting of Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, and Anthony Pettis to crown a new undisputed featherweight champion.

Who is Boxing’s Heavyweight Champion?

The answer to this question is much murkier than the answer to who’s the champion of the UFC’s featherweight division.  Tyson Fury had won the lineal championship (as well as the WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO versions of the title) from Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, but has never defended them due to a variety of out of the ring issues.  Furthermore, there’s the chance that Fury never even fights again.

In the meantime, the titles that he was forced to vacate have been assigned to new champions, with Joseph Parker holding the WBO belt now after defeating Andy Ruiz over the weekend, Anthony Joshua being the IBF champion after defeating Charles Martin in April, and Joshua scheduled to face Klitschko for the still vacant WBA title in April 2017.  Plus there’s also the WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

Of the three current title holders, I think that Joshua is the best of the three, and while Fury is still rightfully regarded as the lineal “man who beat the man who beat the man” champion, I feel that the winner of April’s Anthony Joshua/Wladimir Klitschko’s fight for the IBF and WBA versions of the heavyweight championship should crown an “interim” lineal champion as well in the event that Tyson Fury’s future is still in doubt by then.  Hopefully at some point, the winner of Joshua/Klitschko can either face Fury, or Wilder to further unify all the disputed versions of the champion to create a truly undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

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