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Wonderboy: UFC politics, fake belt diminishing value of welterweight title

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What value?

MMA: UFC 209-Woodley vs Thompson Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Thompson will join baffled Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in the promotion’s head-scratching club, as “Wonderboy” remains a bit perplexed as to why Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington are fighting for an interim title.

Woodley has not competed since his unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia last July, opting for shoulder surgery that sidelined “The Chosen One” for a few short weeks. While he’s certainly dragged his feet regarding an Octagon return, the promotion also struggled to produce a viable contender during that span.

No, this guy doesn’t count.

Woodley was targeting a July return, which is roughly one month after Dos Anjos and Covington compete at UFC 225 in Chicago (more on that fight here). That would leave the division with belts two for a relatively short period of time.

Maybe the promotion is not confident it can sell a welterweight pay-per-view (PPV) title fight without the added (cough) “drama” of making it champion vs. champion?

“It almost diminishes the value of the title, because they’re just throwing it out there — it’s like, ‘You can fight for an interim title, sure,’” Thompson told Bloody Elbow. “I don’t think they should be fighting for an interim title. If [Woodley] says he’ll be back in July or August, then just say, ‘Hey, the winner of this will fight for the title.’ I don’t know what the UFC is playing at or what their thinking is when it comes to the interim title. But they’re just like, ‘You can fight for it anytime. Anybody can fight for an interim title.’”

That’s music to the ears of this welterweight contender.

The substitute strap is just one example of UFC “politics,” the other being Thompson’s 170-pound showdown against budding contender Darren Till. “Wonderboy” will slug it out with the Englishman in an attempt to prove he’s still the top dog in the division, despite coming up short in two appearances against Woodley.

“I think it’s just politics,” Thompson said. “I think that they are trying to make that market out there (in Liverpool). And he’s calling me out, so why not make that happen? I fought for the title twice, and I guess they don’t want to see it again until I prove myself again.”

Thompson vs. Till is set for this Sunday afternoon (May 27, 2018) in the UFC Fight Night 130 main event on FOX Sports 1, taking place inside Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. Sorry, no interim title for this important contest.

Yet.