Tomorrow night, the UFC will make its long-awaited debut on ESPN. The fight card is headlined by a flyweight title superfight between bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw and current flyweight belt-holder Henry Cejudo, a bout that will likely result in Dillashaw becoming the company’s latest double champion only for the flyweight division to be shuttered behind him. Whichever man wins will be the first recipient of some new hardware, rolled out by the UFC this morning.
Unfortunately, the new championship prize looks like a child’s Power Rangers belt.
This is a plastic-ass looking-ass step backward, and despite the cool little touch of adding the flags of the UFC’s first eight champions to the front plate, it looks more like something you’d send in cereal box tops for than a cage fighting championship belt. The raised octagonal platform in the center is a design feature intended to pay tribute to the UFC’s trademark cage shape, but it comes off looking resembling the signature plastic centerpiece in that classic armor set from Toys-R-Us that every kid I grew up with seemed to have. The clashing gold and silver border around the center also doesn’t really make sense.
For reference, here is what they’re phasing out. The old belt is, admittedly, gaudy as hell, but that’s what made it cool! A huge gold plate festooned with oversized letters, baroque fringe, and imitation chain link is perfectly in line with a bizarre sport like MMA. It’s a spectacle indebted to pro wrestling histrionics, and thus something that looks like Ric Flair might have worn it over a sequined robe makes sense.
The new championship belt is all about customization, which, yeah, sure, champions getting their name and a native country’s flag on their strap is cool. However, the UFC will phase out the policy of awarding a fresh belt for every title defense with this new guy, simply popping another gem onto each champ’s golden stop sign instead of presenting them with new hardware.
Anyway, a title-less fighter from Ireland who will never wear one of these seems to like them.