Eddie Alvarez recently spoke out against interim championships, calling it sad and a “replacement for money.” Dana White, who was promoting UFC 236 that is billed by not one, but two interim title bouts, responded to his former champion.
“Everybody who is up here today, whoever wins that belt, they move into the title fight, White said. “And I saw some talk the other day from Eddie Alvarez. I like Eddie, I have a great relationship with Eddie, but he was talking about how, you give interim titles so you don’t have to pay the guys so much or some weird comment like that.
“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.”
Both White and Alvarez seem to be arguing two different things.
White is right in a sense that the winner of an interim title bout indeed gets a champion’s contract. This comes with a good pay bump as long as you hold the belt, and some of these interim champions can also get a cut of the pay-per-view. All in all, an interim title holder can get a lot of the benefits that actual champions have.
Alvarez’s point seems to be about what happens before that match, when negotiations for a pay bump only leads to an “opportunity” to get that money on his next fight. It’s somewhat similar to how Dustin Poirier’s negotiations went recently. He sent the UFC an ultimatum, asking for a pay bump or a big fight. Poirier ended up accepting an interim title bout instead against a different opponent.
It’s definitely a good opportunity that could do wonders for Poirier’s career, if he wins. He can get a champion’s contract that pays better, and a guaranteed (almost) title shot after. What Alvarez argues seems to be that fighters should just be paid better outright instead.
It’s also worth noting that when a champion loses, or an interim title gets stripped, the fighter loses a lot of those benefits and goes back to a smaller contract. This seems to be what former interim champ Tony Ferguson was alluding to when he turned down this bout, saying it didn’t meet their standards and deserves “champ shit only.”