I’m not going to lie: I’m not really a huge fan of this fight or this show despite a fun undercard (fundercard?). I’ll see it for myself or at a friend’s house because as a boxing fan you kind of have to see fights like this when the two headliners are mortal lock hall of famers, but… ugh. I’m just tired of Floyd Mayweather. Tired of his mumblemouthed father, tired of reading about his run ins with the law, the banks and the tax man, tired of his flood of silly comments which never abates, tired of his heel act which has already gone into re-runs, tired of his dildos fights, tired of his ducking competition, tired of every damn thing about him. Floyd may or may not be the most talented fighter today, but I can name you ten fighters off the top of my head who I’d rather watch. In fact, let’s:
1. Manny Pacquiao
2. Miguel Cotto
3. Paul Williams
4. Bernard Hopkins
5. Andre Ward
6. Vic Darchinyan
7. Nonito Donaire
8. Shane Mosley
9. Zab Judah
10. Juan Manuel Marquez
Hey, why not another ten:
11. Chad Dawson
12. Roy Jones Jr.
13. Israel Vasquez
14. Rafael Marquez
15. “Fast” Eddie Chambers
16. Alexander Povetkin
17. Wladimir Klitschko
18. Vitali Klitschko
19. Josh Clottey
20. Arthur Abraham
Hmm, let me really make my point clear:
21. Edison Miranda
22. Amir Khan
23. Tavoris Cloud
24. JuanMa Lopez
25. Juan Diaz
26. Erislandy Lara
27. Guillermo Rigondeaux
28. Tomasz Adamek
29. Steve Cunningham
30. And, yes, even Andre Dirrell, the most boring man on earth who’s not John Ruiz.
No particular order to these since I could keep going with this forever, with names like Kelly Pavlik, Mikkel Kessler, Robert Guerrero, Librado Andrade, Yuriorkis Gamboa, etc. All off the top of my head, no boxrec. All these fighters share the quality of making me enjoy the sport of boxing and making me want to watch more of it; Floyd makes me want to go read a book or go for a run or bake muffins or anything else but watch him, really. If Floyd were the singular talent he thinks he is it would be different, but I’ve been a fan long enough to see quicker fighters (Jones, Ray Leonard), smarter fighters (Hopkins), better defensive fighters (Pernell Whitaker), more offensively skilled fighters (James Toney, Jones, Pacquiao, etc.), and more courageous fighters (too many to name) and that’s just from the recent era without invoking the likes of Ray Robinson. Floyd is very good, even historically good, at many things; he is the best at nothing. He’ll be forgotten remarkably quickly once he’s retired which unfortunately isn’t quite at hand. Anyway….
Main Event: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
I wrote about this one a while back and I largely stand by that analysis. I think Floyd will win the fight; I think Marquez will have more fight in him than he’s being given credit for by people who say Floyd will have no trouble whatsoever. If the version of Marquez who fought Juan Diaz shows up (as opposed to a version which has slipped a great deal athletically) and Floyd actually doesn’t have any trouble with him than I’ll be prepared to give Floyd an enormous amount of credit for that win, because I think it’ll be far and away his best in the last 7 years. One major early battle should be the contest between Floyd’s brittle hands and Marquez’s slowly declining quickness and defensive ability: Marquez has become more and more hittable in recent years (compensating well to his credit with greater emphasis on his accuracy and power, which is part of why he’s been a more exciting fighter of late) and if Floyd can throw a jab and hit Marquez frequently enough with it to keep the fight in the center of the ring, this could indeed prove to be one-sided. In the center, Floyd’s handspeed is an enormous plus and he can pick his shots and pick Marquez apart. If Marquez can force Floyd into reverse and pin him along the ropes or in the corner as Oscar De La Hoya did at times, then he has the accuracy and ring knowledge the Golden Boy lacked to connect with scoring blows and do some real damage.
Ultimately the story of this fight may be a dynamic we see far too much in this sport of late: in a collision of two legendary fighters well past the age of 30, which of them has slipped more athletically and does his opponent have enough left himself to take full advantage of that decline? All my instincts say that in their primes at 130 pounds, Marquez wins a narrow decision over Floyd in a close and competitive fight where few punches land- Jose Luis Castillo fought Floyd nearly equal in their first fight, and Marquez was and is a much better fighter than that in nearly every area. At 14(4? 5? 7?) with a 32 year old Floyd coming out of retirement against a 36 year old JMM who’s been in so many wars, the size difference plus relative physical decline should be enough to get Floyd the victory. That, ultimately, will be Floyd’s epitaph in the sport for good and for ill: he knew all the angles and how to play them, for his own benefit alone.
Chris John vs. Rocky Juarez
A rematch of an entertaining draw which most people thought John won, the only flaw with this fight is that it’s Rocky Juarez’s 4,597th title shot and that means only one thing: plodding, measured offense with no second gear, simple step-forward footwork, total lack of urgency, low punch volume, and another close decision loss for Rocky. He seems like the nicest guy in the world and he’s a very good fighter, but if you accept that he was second best to John in their previous meeting than this has happened to him 5 times already (6 if you count the Zahir Raheem fight, and you should). It has happened to him at featherweight; it has happened at junior lightweight. It has happened to him against semi-brawler types like Humberto Soto; it has happened against boxers like Juan Manuel Marquez. It has happened against guys he’s only fought once; it has happened in a rematch previously as well (Marco Antonio Barrera). It’s very tough to escape the sense that Juarez has found his level, and age plus dropping back down in weight plus facing a guy who was better than him the first time around is not a formula likely to produce a new outcome. John previously had some health issues which postponed this rematch for a while, and if those are lingering than maybe Juarez can get lucky- but I’m looking for nice things to say at this point. John is a heavy favorite here (-325 at the moment) for good reason. This one you probably should put money on if you’re a gambler.
Vicente Escobedo vs. Michael Katsidis
If Katsidis was all of maybe 5-10% better this would be a stupendous fight, because either guy could easily walk away with it. As it is though I rather suspect the Aussie is outgunned in this one. He’s got good handspeed, but so does Escobedo; he’s got heavy hands, but so does Escobedo; he’s got a big heart and will to win, but so does Escobedo of late; he’s got a highly questionable chin- but Escobedo does not. More specifically Escobedo is a very comfortable counterpuncher by inclination, and he throws quick and accurate straight shots- this is essentially the perfect fighter to be if your goal is to KO an often overly-aggressive face-first defensively irresponsible brawler who throws wide hooks like Katsidis. It should be fun so long as it goes and Katsidis throws enough heat that he may either strike lucky or send Escobedo into a shell with pressure, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
This Guy vs. That Guy Over There
In theory there’s another televised bout between two dudes. I don’t really know much about them and the fight’s a late minute replacement for Zab Judah, who’s been making decisions without consulting his brain again. Hopefully it’ll be fun.
Overall, I suspect I like this card much less than most people, and for most it’ll be a lot of fun especially for Floyd fans. The undercard should be action packed, and if the main event were going to lead to anything it could be an important moment in recent boxing history. We’ll see.
“He needs to dispose of Marquez, which shouldn’t be a difficult challenge. While Marquez is an elite fighter, he’s a lightweight. Mayweather is not only the bigger man, but also he’s the far quicker man and better boxer.
It would be a shock if Mayweather were to lose the fight.”
Am I the only person out there who doesn’t buy for a moment that Floyd is just going to walk all over Juan Manuel Marquez? I think Floyd should be the favorite, but the idea that all he has to do is show up for a win is… a bit optimistic. I’ll do a serious breakdown closer to the fight probably, but a few points:
– Marquez is a lightweight, but Mayweather is hardly a towering, physically imposing welterweight. He’ll have a size advantage but his style doesn’t really involve using that to any great degree- he won’t walk Marquez down, he won’t muscle him on the inside, he won’t plant his feet and swing for the KO. To the extent Mayweather is helped it’ll probably be in shrugging off Marquez’s power, but Floyd’s chin has never been much of a question mark anyway.
– Mayweather is probably quicker, indeed; but his punch output has been declining for years, and against fighters with even a rudimentary concept of defense (by which I mean: Not Ricky Hatton) he’s starting to have trouble getting punches off. He’s one at a time, relying more and more on his defense to let him back up, dodge and counter, or occasionally get off a quick lead as a fighter comes in on him. Marquez has very good defense especially when he’s got time to see the punches coming, and he’s phenomenally accurate and varied on offense; he may walk Floyd to the corner, hit him three times, take one in response, back off, and repeat. That’s not a good math for Floyd.
– I have no idea what it means to say that Floyd is “the better boxer” in this context. He’s got some skills which Marquez does not at this point (primarily defensive positioning), and Marquez has some which Floyd does not (primarily punching variety); I don’t see that as being clearly superior in any meaningful sense. It’s JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ, for God’s sake- the man gives up very little in technique to anyone you’ll ever see.
– Marquez thinks he can win. Thinks he WILL win. He is not now and never has been a guy who takes a fight just for a paycheck; do not underestimate the value of this. Marquez will not go away in this one.
– Floyd’s now 32 years old with a long string of injuries in his past mostly to his hands, he’s not fought in over a year, there’s reports swirling that a random sparring partner worked him in training and caused his rib injury, his entire game is based on quickness and pinpoint timing, and there’s a strong suspicion that he’s fighting for money far more than anything else these days. This is not a good combination.
-Go backways on Floyd’s record, and it’s just not that much to talk about of late. Hatton…well. He speaks for himself, and he’s the best win on here. De La Hoya was a great fighter at the end of his rope, losing as many as he won, and who never really performed well again after the Mayweather fight- and still nearly beat Floyd in a fight which went to a split decision. Baldomir was a joke, a creation of Zab Judah’s lack of professionalism. Judah himself actually won rounds early before mentally disintegrating, and is 3-2 with losses in his only serious fights (Cotto, Clottey) since the Mayweather fight, which he came into on the back of a loss. Sharmba Mitchell was ancient, reduced by knee injuries and fighting above his prime weight, and retired 2 fights late on the back of a KO loss to Paul Williams. Arturo Gatti, may he rest in peace and with no disrespect intended to the departed, was fighting above his best weight, went 1-2 in his remaining 3 fights, and was just not on Floyd’s level. Henry Bruseles was far more of a joke than even Baldomir. Chop was a pretty good fighter at 140 but was coming off a loss, and no one on earth would mistake him for JM Marquez. N’dou was a moderately talented plodder who lost his next fight and retired for nearly 5 years. Victoriano Sosa was a good fighter at 135, but no one’s putting him in the HOF. None of these men, with the arguable exception of Zab (who won rounds) is exactly an offensive dynamo.
And all of a sudden it’s 2002 and Floyd’s fighting Jose Luis Castillo, a fantastic fighter he deserves all the credit in the world for defeating twice. But that was 2002; and Juan Manuel Marquez, even at 35 and many pounds above his best weight, is still lightyears beyond every other fighter Floyd has faced since then. And he’s not facing the Floyd of 2002, who was an awesome spectacle of talent and intelligence inside the ring, and who looked at times unbeatable; he’s facing the version who lost rounds and had trouble keeping the faded Oscar De La Hoya off of him, and that’s a best case scenario assuming the year and a half plus layoff between his last fight and this hasn’t taken too much more of that once-otherworldly talent with it.
Like I said, Floyd’s Floyd, and if you’re betting he should probably be your man for this one depending on what odds you’re getting. But if Marquez wins I won’t be in the least bit shocked, and if Floyd does win this fight I’m going to give him a lot more credit than others may if he wins convincingly. The early prediction here is that slow-starting Marquez gives away one or two too many of the early rounds and lives to regret it in a very close decision loss.
EDIT: Re-reading this (I think I wrote it 5 days ago), it comes off a bit harsh. With guys like Bruseles and Baldomir it’s not that they’re joke fighters, it’s that there was just never any realistic chance of them competing with a top-3 P4P fighter. So the fights against Floyd were inevitabilities taken because they were easy money with HBO paying for them, and because it meant Floyd didn’t have to face anyone tougher.
Back with the second installment of these.
5. BJ Penn converts to Juan Manuel Marquez.
Similarities: Technically excellent and physically unimposing fighters who’ve fought their careers out slightly in the shadow of an important rival, in Penn’s case GSP and in Marquez’s, Pacquiao. Both as a result have something of a public reputation as whiners. Both are far from imposing physical specimens, and thus rely on a perfection of technique to achieve results- both are amazingly accurate strikers, and Penn adds his famous jiu jitsu while Marquez is the more varied puncher. Both are probably first-ballot hall of famers who’ve somehow always seemed a half-step behind the top 2 or 3 P4P guys in their eras.
Differences: Penn has a sort of perpetual fog of disappointment around him, a sense that he’s not getting the most out of his career whether through lack of conditioning, or lack of improvement, or insistence in fighting at weights which don’t suit him. Marquez by contrast has probably accomplished now more than had been expected of him early in his career, and there’s really no fight you can point to and say conclusively that Marquez beat himself in through lack of preparation. Penn has fought all over the place weight-wise and sought out the big fights, while Marquez has seemed content at times to hang around at one weight and fight scrubs instead of seeking out career-defining superfights. Oddly enough though, when he does have those fights Marquez has shown the heart of a lion in coming back from adversity (recovering from 3 first-round knockdowns against Pacquiao, for instance) in a way which Penn never really has.
6. Randy Couture converts to Bernard Hopkins.
Similarities: The inspiration for this list and the most obvious comparison, it’s two old men who’ve won multiple titles in multiples weight classes and succeeded far past the age of 40, beating up younger men despite being counted out and written off again and again. Both are possessed of brilliant insight into their respective sports and have demonstrated it as excellent TV analysts, both retain far more of their youthful quickness and endurance at this age than they have any right to, both hit harder than they’re expected to and can be counted on for one unexpected knockdown in a thrilling decision victory (vs. Tarver, vs. Sylvia, etc.), both are really good wrestlers, both have a remarkable understanding of positioning and timing, both have a knack for suckering opponents into fighting their fight. Both (if Hopkins vs. Adamek is made) are likely to win their next fight despite being older than things like weather and the moon. Both have fought just about everyone with a nametag in their weight range at one time or another. Both have retired on occasion, and neither has ever meant it. Both have headlined huge shows, and both are regarded as one of, if not the, foremost fighters of their era.
Differences: One’s Sub-Zero, the other’s Scorpion; they’re palette swaps of each other for all intents and purposes, with biography the only serious difference. Couture was a military man and amateur wrestler who was obviously great from the start (“The Natural”), winning the UFC heavyweight title in his 4th pro fight. Hopkins was a criminal who did prison time (5 years), and who lost his pro debut before dropping down in weight and becoming what he became. If you want to really look for something, Couture is more beloved while Hopkins is more respected; Couture has also won more total titles, while Hopkins dominated middleweight in a way Couture never quite did at any weight class.
Fun Fact: in all the furor over this horrible pro wrestler invading UFC, it’s fun to remember that Randy Couture’s first UFC opponent was this guy.
A few other quicker ones, which are more provisional:
7. Cain Valasquez converts to Jorge Linares
Similarities: Both are fantastic young prospects with awesome reputations and a strong measure of early pro success, marred by one crucial flaw. In Linares’ case, he can’t stay healthy enough to fight consistently; in Velasquez’s, he’s got a chin about which people are starting to ask serious questions after Cheick Kongo cracked it twice. Neither guy is so far exactly a killer KO artist either.
Differences: A vast weight difference, and most importantly simply that each guy is early enough in their career that we don’t really know what they’ll become.
8. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua converts to Miguel Cotto
Similarities: Both have been dominant fighters in their division and at times considered the best regardless of who held the actual titles, and both are defined as fighters by their offense. Both had serious setbacks due to physical injury, Cotto from the illegal and disgraceful beating he received from Antonio Margarito’s loaded gloves, Shogun from a long series of knee problems which kept him out for over a year. Both may be walking into a buzzsaw next time out against Manny Pacquiao and Lyoto Machida, though there are people who are picking both men as underdogs. Both have records with very few goobers, derelicts, butt-scratchers and humanoids on them. Both had a good win last time out, but with real questions attached- Cotto about his durability, Rua as to whether the guy he beat was any good any more.
Differences: Rua has a much better and longer track record against top, top, top opposition; however that record is also suspect for a reason Cotto’s can’t be, given the switch from PRIDE rules to UFC.
9. John Duddy and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. convert to Kimbo Slice
Similarities: Vaguely ethnic drawing cards whose fame has come from means other than actual in-ring accomplishments, and who owe the careers they have to shrewd promotion and matchmaking. None are really any good, and all either are likely to or already have folded against the first serious opposition they faced.
Differences: Kimbo’s a lot more famous than those other too goofs, and he’s also shown a resilience as an attraction which they haven’t by getting himself on TUF. Heard anything about Duddy recently since the Billy Lyell fight? Me neither.
I’m not even going to attempt to say much about Marquez/Diaz over the weekend, other than that it was one of the best fights of the last few years and in my opinion would have won fight of the year for last year had it happened a few months earlier. It must be watched by anyone who enjoys any of the fighting sports genres. Marquez has become one of the best fighters of his generation, and the way he’s adapted over the years has been amazing- these days he wins with heart and power, giving up rounds and taking significant damage before he adjusts and uses his still excellent accuracy to pound guys out. He’s not half as quick or agile as he was 10 years ago and barely resembles the defensive wizard he used to be, but he’s lost remarkably little if anything from his overall effectiveness. He (and his trainer, Nacho Beristain) are sort of boxing geniuses.
I’ll never understand why that’s not enough for some people. For instance, Dan Rafael:
“Many believe he won both of his fights against pound-for-pound king Pacquiao despite winding up with a controversial draw and split decision loss….And now Marquez has designs on junior welterweight, where he’d love a crack at the winner of the Ricky Hatton-Pacquiao fight.“
And later regarding Glen Johnson:
“…Johnson, ducked by too many top fighters to name… Johnson, the former champion with wins against Roy Jones and Antonio Tarver…came close to regaining the title in April, when he pushed Chad Dawson to the brink in a very, very close fight. But nobody wants to fight him….”
Rafael’s usually pretty good, but he’s founding these drums with an excessive fury, and he’s not alone. It’s amazing to me how hard it is for some people to let it go in these sorts of circumstances, or to develop a perspective about what actually happened. Pacquiao fought Marquez twice; both were very close fights; Marquez did not initially want the rematch over money concerns, while Pacquiao did; Marquez won more rounds in both fights, but did not win because Pacquiao knocked him down 4 times in 2 fights; these are facts. If you believe that Marquez won those fights, that’s certainly a defensible position- but why then are you obsessed with getting a third match between the two when you believe the results of the first two weren’t captured by the judging? The first two were very similar, and apparently the things judges look for were better exemplified by Pacquiao, whether that should be the case or not. Why would that change with a third fight? And if the first two were razor thin, why would a third fight make all the difference if, say, Marquez won by a point? It would just underline what we already know: both guys are utterly great, and essentially equal in ability. There’s a weird undertone from Marquez partisans which seems to indicate that they believe they’re being screwed by the system, that it’s unjust that Paquiao won’t fight their man until the stupid judges see it their way. And yet, the reason both decisions went the way they did is, ultimately, that Marquez kept getting knocked down; it’s not as though this is GSP vs. Penn, where there’s at least a specific incident to base a claim of getting screwed on. It’s very strange. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to watch the fight, but it’s not a black mark on either man or boxing history if it doesn’t happen; Pacquiao owes Marquez and fans exactly nothing over this situation, in my view.
If Marquez inspires thoughtless devotion, I’m not sure what Glen Johnson inspires- whole-hearted lack of perspective, perhaps? I like the guy- he’s incredibly hardworking and devoted to the sport, he produces very good fights, he’s competed at a world class level and has been a world champion, and honestly I’m a huge fan of reggae music and so end up rooting for Jamaicans on that basis. But seriously now- let’s look at his record: he fought Bernard Hopkins for a middleweight championship 12 years ago and was knocked out; fought Sven Ottke 10 years ago for a super middleweight belt and lost a decision, which came as part of a 4 fight losing streak to such names as Omar Sheika, Syd Vanderpool and Silvio Branco; fought Clinton Woods 5 years ago for a light heavyweight title, and got a rematch after a draw; followed that up with a 3 fight streak against Roy Jones, Antonio Tarver, and Tarver again- three big money fights including 2 for the legitimate light heavyweight title; fought Woods again for a lesser 175 pound belt 3 years ago; then fought Chad Dawson, exactly the sort of young fighter who’s supposed to be ducking him, last year and lost. Throw in fights here and there against guys like Montell Griffin and Eric Harding, and it’s really hard to find too many notable names who Johnson DIDN’T get a chance to fight who he deserved a shot at during his career- Except Joe Calzaghe, but you knew that already.
I just don’t get it- I look at Johnson and see a very good fighter who’s aged gracefully and had a long and successful career, who’s made the absolute most of his natural ability to overcome seemingly more talented fighters and eventually compete, and sometimes win, at the world title level. I see a man who’s gotten many chances over many years in big money fights, nationally televised fights, belt fights and world title fights despite being worth almost nothing at the box office and having several bad-if-questionable losses on his ledger- and who has ultimately deserved those chances on account of his ability and overall performance. I just can’t find much in here to make me think Johnson is some horrible victim of the boxing game who’s being ducked by everyone, who’s never gotten his due or his fair chances. It’s true that lesser fighters have gotten more in some instances (Zab Judah, take a bow), but that’s just the reality of fight promotion: there’s more slack for the men who mean money. That does’t mean Johnson’s being screwed, just that for whatever reason- lack of charisma, wrong place at the wrong time, not a big knockout artist, whatever- he never mastered the art of breaking through into the public consciousness and projecting an image that would draw money. Maybe that makes him a more honest (sports)man, but it’s also almost entirely responsible for the difference between his career and, say, Tito Trinidad’s run post-Hopkins: Tito was a shell of himself and almost a fraud on the public in his comebacks, but he was a huge puncher and a superstar with his audience who paid money to see him; Johnson, despite being a much better fighter by that point, had appeal really only to hardcore fans.
Those hardcore fans, and every fighting genre has them, might prefer it if their sports were run purely as sports; but it’s never been done that way, it never will be done that way, and for the overall financial health of the sport it shouldn’t be done that way. Ask yourself what the boxing match with the most public appeal over the last year was- the answer’s Pac Man vs. De la Hoya, and the sporting rationale for that encounter was almsot nonexistent. There were well over a million other reasons for that fight however. And that’s the story for Johnson, to a lesser degree Marquez, and a lot of other fighters to learn: they may have a huge number of sporting reasons by which to demand chances and fights, but not nearly enough of the second to get everything they demand. Such is the nature of fight promotion, and because it’s grounded in the nature of human psychology, it’s unlikely to change soon or very much; better to recognize it and adjust than to complain.
When I was becoming a serious boxing fan, Max Kellerman was the lead analyst on Friday Night Fights on ESPN, and he did a lot to shape my understanding of the sport along with watching and reading guys like Teddy Atlas, Dave Meltzer, Al Bernstein, old AJ Leibling stuff, etc. I miss that Max Kellerman, and I really wonder who that look-a-like working for HBO is, because seemingly every broadcast these days he says at least one thing which is somewhere between highly questionable and utterly asinine. The one which caught me on Saturday was his throwaway celebration of the lineal title as the gold standard of recognition of fighting success. What a pernicious idea this has become, because it’s based around encouraging failure to recognize what titles are supposed to stand for: superiority. UFC titles these days mean a lot, because there’s only one, and the best fight for it; boxing titles mean nothing, because there’s 62 in each weight class and people who haven’t been heard of by their own families compete for them. In theory the lineal idea should cut through that; but the lineal title to which Kellerman was referring was the one held by Joel Casamayor, which perfectly illustrates the issue.
You may remember Casa as the guy who was handed the single worst decision of all of 2007 right after winning the title, as Jose Armando Santa Cruz knocked him down and pounded him relentlessly for 12 rounds only for Cepillo to be gifted the split decision. What on earth is a title worth after that performance? JASC was a peripheral contender at the time- am I as a fan supposed to give meaningful credit to a theoretical belt retained by theft against an average opponent under those circumstances? There’s just no way to maintain that Casamayor was the best lightweight in the world anymore, which is what that title is supposed to mean; treating Casamayor as better reduces the lineal title to just another trinket to be bandied about, the equivalent of the IBO Southern Hemisphere Under-18s Interim Heritage title or that theoretical World Cup title in soccer which gets traded in direct competition and currently resides with Scotland or Georgia or the like. None of this is to take credit away from Marquez, whose achievements speak for themselves, or from Casamayor who I believe is a hall of famer and a wildly underrated fighter who could easily have won some of the fights where decisions went against him (he beat Jose Luis Castillo, for example); but what makes those men great fighters is that they’re great fighters, not that they’ve held this or that theoretical title. You can see this in non-UFC areas of MMA as well: does Fedor make the WAMMA belt, or does the WAMMA belt make Fedor? Not a hard question.
UFC titles, because they’re protected and largely competed for on the basis of sport, mean something- they usually indicate the best fighter in the UFC (which is often the best fighter in the division), and champions can’t really get away with ducking opposition, while finishes are more common so there’s less of an opportunity for bad judging. In short, the title derives meaning from how closely it adheres to the sporting rationale for titles in the first place: to indicate the best. In boxing the profusion of bad belts, bad judging, and a tendency to think the possession of a belt or title matters more than what it signifies has eroded the credibility of almost every title. Put another way: does anyone think, after the Santa Cruz fight, that billing Casamayor as lineal title holder meant anything in a sporting or business capacity? Did it draw one eyeball or convince one person that Cepillo was the best?
I guess it convinced one person, but maybe that says more about him than anything else.