An interim championship is an alternate title that is awarded by the sanctioning bodies of professional boxing, and in other combat sports such as kickboxing, professional wrestling, and mixed martial arts.
Occasionally, the champion of a particular weight division is temporarily unable to defend his championship because of medical, legal, or other reasons beyond the competitor's control. When this case occurs, two highly ranked contenders may fight for an interim championship of the same weight division – leading to two champions existing in the same weight division simultaneously. Once the original champion can return, at the discretion of the sanctioning body or promotion concerned, they must defend their title against the interim champion - who will relinquish their interim title to fight for the full world title. If the original champion cannot return, refuses to defend their title, or transfers to a different weight division, the interim champion is promoted to full championship status. The WBC, however, has begun awarding interim titles to the winners of final eliminator fights, effectively signifying a mandatory challenger position for the full world title. Recent examples include the winners of Dillian Whyte vs. Oscar Rivas and Devin Haney vs. Zaur Abdullaev.
In the case of professional wrestling, due to the entertainment and scripted nature of the sport, an interim championship is rarely used as most reasons – while similar to the ones in combat sports that are sometimes beyond the wrestler's control – usually lead to the champion being stripped of the title and a new champion is determined. One example of an interim champion was on WWE's NXT brand, where NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin could not travel to the United States to defend the title due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, rendering him only able to defend the title on NXT's UK brand at the time. Therefore, in the United States, an interim Cruiserweight Championship was created and won in a tournament by Santos Escobar. Once travel restrictions eased up, Devlin and Escobar fought in a unification match at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver to determine the sole champion, which Escobar won. Recent examples include the winners of Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker vs. Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida.
Current interim championsEdit
As of September 25, 2022[update]
|Sanctioning body||Weight Class||Champion|
|WBC||Super Middleweight||David Benavidez|
|WBC||Super Welterweight||Sebastian Fundora|
|Ultimate Fighting Championship||Flyweight||Brandon Moreno|
|Bellator MMA||Welterweight||Logan Storley|
|Cage Warriors||Featherweight||Paul Hughes|
|Eagle Fighting Championship||Featherweight||Rasul Magomedov|
|Extreme Fighting Championship||Lightweight||Alain Ilunga|
|ONE Championship||Heavyweight||Anatoly Malykhin|
|All Elite Wrestling||AEW Women's World Championship||Toni Storm|
- Staff, MMAchannel com. "Why Does UFC Have Interim Champions?". MMACHANNEL. Retrieved 2021-11-18.
- "Why Are There So Many Boxing Champions & Title Belts?". Boxing Base. Retrieved 2021-11-18.
- Powell, Jason (25 January 2020). "WWE Worlds Collide results: Powell's live review of Undisputed Era vs. Imperium, Rhea Ripley vs. Toni Storm for the NXT Championship, Angel Garza vs. Isaiah Scott vs. Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, Finn Balor vs. Ilja Dragunov, DIY vs. Moustache Mountain". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- Moore, John (April 8, 2021). "NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver results: Moore's live review of night two with Finn Balor vs. Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship, Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly in an unsanctioned match, Santos Escobar vs. Jordan Devlin in a ladder match to unify the NXT Cruiserweight Title". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
- "AEW Forbidden Door 2022: Results, Live Updates and Match Ratings".
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- WBA officials. World Boxing Association World Championships Regulations. World Boxing Association. accessed 22 December 2014.