Lately in the UFC, a couple champions have been sidelined due to injury. Welterweight king Georges St-Pierre recently came back from knee surgery to defeat interim champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154, and bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz remains sidelined due to a knee injury.

When a champion is injured and can’t defend his belt, usually an interim title is put in place where two top contenders would fight to determine who would wear a “fake belt” until the champion returns. Then the two would unify the belts, crowning one undisputed champion.

There have been two cases recently where interim champions were named.

Condit won the interim welterweight belt in February against Nick Diaz. But he didn’t compete again until November against St-Pierre. And in the bantamweight division, Renan Barao captured the interim belt against Urijah Faber at UFC 149, but has stated that he prefers to wait until Cruz returns and not fight before that title bout.

The waiting game has become a problem for interim title holders, and it leads us to this question: Should they have to defend their title, if time is available, while the champion is recovering?

The answer is yes, for a couple reasons.

First off, when an interim champion waits for a title shot, it causes a log jam in the division. This is the case currently in the 135-pound weight class, as Barao wants to wait for his title shot. The Brazilian has certainly earned the shot after defeating Faber, but it hurts other top bantamweight contenders such as Michael McDonald. McDonald has done enough to be worthy of a title shot, but if Barao ends up waiting for Cruz, McDonald will have to settle for fighting a lower-ranked fighter instead of taking on Barao.

Another reason is that is causes the UFC to miss out on another fight to promote. UFC President Dana White and company want to put together blockbuster fights, and a fight such as interim champion Barao vs. McDonald would be a bout that would draw interest. These are two of the top bantamweights, both of whom are still young, and they would put on a great fight. Anytime there’s a fight with this level of potential, you have to ignore the interim title aspect and put the fight on regardless.

After the interim champion defends his belt, then fans will know if that fighter is a legitimate contender to the true champion. Many people would have liked to see Condit fight again after his bout with Diaz, just to see if he would be a threat to St-Pierre. It would also have aided in boosting fan recognition of Condit as an exciting challenger to St-Pierre’s throne.

These two scenarios are only examples, and from here on out, the UFC should put in a policy that the interim champion must defend his belt before the champion returns. It would beneficial for the UFC’s great fan base, as they get to see yet another title fight. It would allow the fighters to receive an extra paycheck. And it would benefit the UFC as the promotion tries to push the brand over the top.

Photo: The UFC interim bantamweight champion, Renan Barao (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.