If there’s one thing in boxing that I prefer to MMA it has to be inter-branded fights. There are so many different boxing federations in the world, so having champions from different brands box makes sense so we can actually decipher who’s the best in the world in each division. So, why doesn’t this happen in MMA?
I think the main reason this doesn’t happen in MMA is because the UFC are so far ahead in terms of popularity that it doesn’t make sense for them to help their competition catch-up by essentially giving them free promo. In comparison, in boxing you have federations/titles such as the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO, which are all highly appreciated and practically on the same level as each other in terms of popularity. As all of these federations/titles are of a similar stature, you can use inter-branded super fights to elevate all parties. The behind the scenes work of contracts must be difficult to resolve, but the results clearly outweigh the long effort that goes into making the fights.
So will we ever get these inter-branded fights in MMA? At this rate, no. The UFC keep extending the gap to the likes of Bellator and One Championship in terms of quality and instead of taking quality from the UFC, these promotions are taking the UFC’s deadwood and their stars are going the other way.
I think Yoel Romero will be pivotal in answering this question though. The Cuban was released by the UFC towards to tail-end of 2020 and signed with Bellator as a result. Romero was unable to win the UFC Middleweight title in three attempts, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs with Bellator’s Light Heavyweight’s. If he dominates, we could argue that this inter-brand dream will not happen anytime soon. However, if he struggles, could that begin to raise the stock of Bellator and make more people ask questions about these inter-branded fights? I know, it’s not a direct translation in division, which doesn’t make this test completely accurate, but he’s older and in a heavier division, which should counteract that factor.
To round up, I don’t see inter-branded MMA coming to our screens in the next 10-15 years, but it would definitely be nice.