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Are 8 UFC Title Fights a Year Enough?

On Saturday night UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn will defend his title against Diego Sanchez at UFC 107. It will be the eighth and final UFC title fight of 2009.

Is that enough? It's not all that many future than they've had in past years (there were 11 in 2008, but two of those were for interim titles, and nine in 2007, one of which was for an interim title) and yet as I look back on this year in the UFC, I just feel like we haven't seen enough title fights.

The UFC has a tough balancing act with scheduling its fights. They're fairly entrenched in their current business model of averaging a pay-per-view show a month, and that means they need 12 main events this year. But Dana White's common refrain that UFC fighters fight three times a year aside, we don't get 15 title fights a year. And it's probably not realistic to count on even 12 title fights a year, at least as long as there are only five weight classes in the UFC.

I'd like to see title fights more often, and I always feel like a pay-per-view without one isn't a very good deal. On the other hand, I don't want to see MMA turn into boxing, where there are so many championships that title fights are no longer special. Like I said, it's a tough balancing act.

Unfortunately, we probably won't see any more than eight title fights in 2010. The first two pay-per-views of next year, UFC 108 and UFC 109, have already been officially announced as having main events that aren't for titles, and UFC 110 -- though not formally announced -- will almost surely not have a title fight either.

We don't know what the physical condition of the UFC's lightweight champion will be after Saturday night, we probably won't see Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva defend the welterweight and middleweight belts until the spring, light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida is penciled in to defend his title in May, and heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is so sick that we have absolutely no idea when he'll fight again.

So enjoy Penn vs. Sanchez. UFC title fights are rare things these days.