The UFC needs more interim titles.
Before you call for me to be drawn and quartered or broken upon the wheel, hear me out because I have my reasons for this seemingly outré opinion.
In the simplest of terms, it’s all about getting more fighters the opportunity to make money.
First, fighters who compete for a (vacant) interim title get title challenger compliance pay under the UFC Athlete Outfitting Policy. Which means fighters like Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France, who fought for the interim flyweight title at UFC 277, went from potentially earning $6,000 each in compliance pay (for a non-title fight) to taking home $32,000 apiece. That’s not nothing — and for Moreno, who won the interim title, he’ll make $42,000 in compliance pay as a champ when he competes in the title unification bout.
While the UFC does not guarantee fighters a bump in pay for a (vacant) interim title fight, if that fighter’s contract contains a title fight pay stipulation, that fighter will receive that bump in pay for the initial interim title fight. (Fighters take note - make sure your contract has a clear title fight pay bump clause).
And while that fighter might not get champion’s pay (unless it is in their contract) for the interim title unification bout, they are likely to get the bump in pay that comes with being a title challenger, which can be up to $600,000 or more for heavyweights and in the $250,000 range for lighter weight fighters.
Also, according to UFC president Dana White, an interim champ shares in pay-per-view points for a PPV title unification bout and that stream of income can be very lucrative.
“When you win the interim title belt, you’re looked at as the titleholder,” White said. “So when you go into a title fight, both guys share in the pay-per-view revenue. If you’re a contender without the interim title, you don’t. So, there’s nothing bad about holding an interim belt going into a title fight.”
According to details that came to light during thanks to the UFC Anti-Trust lawsuit, Hal J. Singer, an expert witness for the Plaintiffs outlined an example of how fighters might receive PPV points — “$1.00 for every PPV ticket sold between 200,000 and 400,000 tickets. Compensation for tickets sold between 400,000 and 600,000 is given as $2.00 each. Then, tickets sold over the 600,000 threshold result in a $2.50 reward each.”
In addition, if the interim champ becomes the undisputed champion, they are likely to receive a discretionary bonus from the UFC of $100,000.
So, next time, the UFC says it’s going to throw an interim title fight on a fight card, resist the urge to rend your garments and accept that ultimately the interim title is a good thing, one of those opportunities the UFC likes to tell us it provides to fighters.