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Renan Barao the latest to prove the uselessness of interim titles

Interim means temporary, or provisional, or in the meantime. It speaks to an impermanent state. For instance, one could say, “My girlfriend is away for a month on business, and because I know she’s banging her good looking male colleague who texts her late at night but she insists is ‘just a friend,’ I’ll go ahead and take her sister into my bed in the interim.” The statement implies a temporary circumstance, and that when she returns from doing unspeakable things with her colleague, and vice versa with her sister, things will go back to their original state.

Now of course in fighting it’s a little different. Dominick Cruz was the bantamweight champion. A serious knee injury forced him out of action for an extended period of time. To keep the division moving along, an interim bout between Renan Barao and Urijah Faber was sensibly set up to crown an interim champion. In that sense, it stands to reason that it’s not so much “temporary,” as it is “in lieu of,” because it would be illegitimate to just strip the interim champion of his belt once the real champion returns, so they always do a unification bout. Fair enough.

But this shit with fighters winning the interim belt, then refusing to defend it until the actual champion returns is getting out of hand. It’s a fake ass belt, ok. You didn’t beat the champion to win it. You beat a guy who couldn’t beat the champion. That makes it a circumstantial belt. And that means a fighter should not be able to hold a division hostage for an extended period of time to wait out the real champion. Carlos Condit did it, and now Renan Barao is doing it.

Barao’s coach, Andre Pederneiras spoke to UOL and offered his justification to why Barao will wait for Cruz, and it’s along the lines of a second grader telling his teacher the reason he pulled Sally’s pigtails is because he saw Jimmy did it too:

“He just won the title, just fought. We will wait. Look how long the wait was for Condit and GSP to unify the belt?”

So basically the reasoning is that because Carlos Condit did it, hey so are we. Condit set a bad precedent, but that doesn’t mean others have to follow it. It doesn’t help that we have GSP going around calling Condit the “real champeeyon.” He’s not. Neither is Barao. They should attach a stipulation to bout agreements for interim titles that prohibit this sort of thing.

Interim belts are pretty ridiculous, but when they’re not overused they’re a necessary tool to keep a division moving. That’s their entire purpose. But by using that fake belt to secure a shot at the real belt in a manner that holds a division hostage goes against the point of its very existence. Welterweight is a long established division with numerous challengers. Bantamweight doesn’t enjoy that benefit. They need all the activity they can get.

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