Dana White Defends Interim Titles After Back-to-Back Wars at UFC 236 • MMA News
UFC president Dana White has never understood the backlash
about introducing interim titles in the mix in any given division.
The argument against interim titles typically revolves around
the UFC seemingly putting a championship up for grabs whenever a card is in
need of a headliner with limited options available. While there are no rules
surrounding interim titles, the understanding in the past is that they are
introduced when a champion is unable to compete or defend his or her belt.
Andrei Arlovski famously won the interim heavyweight title
after Frank Mir suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle accident. Renan Barao was
crowned interim heavyweight champion when Dominick Cruz was sidelined due to
multiple knee surgeries.
Lately the reasons for introducing interim titles seem to
happen with a little less rhyme or reason but White says the main and co-main
events this past Saturday night are prime examples why those championships
matter so much.
In the main event, Dustin Poirier won his first UFC title
with a five-round decision against Max Holloway while Israel Adesanya captured
the interim middleweight champion following a back and forth war with Kelvin
Both the main event and co-main event were awarded ‘Fight of
the Night’ bonuses by the UFC.
“I’m going to tell you cause 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. “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. Cause now Israel, and I’m sure many of you saw it
tonight, Israel’s flashy, Israel’s a good looking kid, Israel speaks really
well — Israel became a star tonight. Israel Adesanya became a star tonight.
People are going to be talking about that fight for a month.”
White argues that a big part of what made those fights
special on Saturday night is because Poirier, Adesanya, Holloway and Gastelum
were all competing for a UFC championship.
On top of that, White adds that the two new interim
champions will also enjoy the other bonuses that come along with holding gold
in the UFC including a cut of pay-per-view profits when they compete again.
“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. 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.”