It seems that the general consensus for interim title holders and/or No. 1 contenders is to sit out and wait for a shot at the title.
Hypothetically, it’s a great way of near enough ensuring that a tilt at the belt is in the bag. However, this modus operandi should not be allowed by the UFC brass.
A perfect example is the case of current welterweight interim champion Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit.
Following a triumphant victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 143, he was then slated to lock horns with the divisional champion Georges St-Pierre. However, with St-Pierre’s reoccurring knee injury, that matchup has been put on the shelf for an indeterminate period of time.
Now, through no fault of his own, Condit found himself in a catch-22 situation—play it safe and wait for St-Pierre to fully recuperate, which at best, could be in late 2012 or worse, 2013. And the other option would be to stay active and defend his title.
Since he didn’t want to risk his No. 1 ranking, he opted to sit it out and wait his turn.
Given the stacked nature of the 170-pound division, his actions are partly to blame for bringing the fluidity of the weight class to a halt.
As the interim champ, he has a duty to himself and his contemporaries to defend the belt and keep the division in the swing of things. Otherwise the title becomes worthless, and his status as second "top dog" will have little or no meaning.
Presently, Jake Ellenberger—the No. 3 ranked fighter in the division—is scheduled to face-off against Martin Kampmann at TUF 15 Finale on June 1. If victorious, it’s more than likely Ellenberger will have to sit and wait for the St-Pierre vs. Condit outcome.
However, if the fight is delayed even further, what then?
Does Ellenberger employ the same strategy that Condit has or keep busy (maybe a showdown with Johny Hendricks who, like Condit, seems intent on waiting in the wings)?
A vicious cycle it might be—title shots scuppered, contender’s spots lost and the financial aspect also comes into play. Nevertheless, this is where the UFC hierarchy needs to put its foot down.
The assumption is that the Zuffa-based promotion is in the business of making money and putting on great fights, and since the Company lines the coffers of these professional mixed martial artists, they in turn are obliged to reciprocate, title contention or not.