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Do we need more weight classes?


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I think Chris Weidman is the best example around at the moment that a 195lbs division is needed. The jump between middleweight and light-heavy is 20lbs, which is almost a stone and a half in weight. That's mental. There has to be a middle ground there for guys who can't make 185lbs but who aren't in a position to compete 20lbs heavier.

I have a feeling that Dana will hold out on extra weight classes for a while yet though, probably because there's been so much clamour for them and he's always made a song & dance out of saying "nope, not happening."

The prick has backed himself into a corner on that one.

Until we see more divisions, we're going to see more guys make that jump up and get flatlined I fear. It's actually pretty dangerous when you think about it.

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Chris Weidman didn't have any trouble making 185 when he was champion as far as I'm aware. He just tried a different weight class because of his recent poor form but got the same result. The only thing 195 might offer him is a smaller pool of talent to go against.  

Having said that, I think there is a good argument for a 195 class given the gap between MW and LHW. You could argue for something between LW and WW given the sheer number of quality fighters at those two weights. I'd leave it there for now though. 

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I was never keen on the idea of adding more weight classes, simply because I felt like it would water down the divisions we already have. But as time has gone on, I think we’re at a point now where they’re more necessary. The overall skill level in MMA has obviously got higher over the years and I think any extra weight now counts more than ever. If you’ve got a fight at Middleweight, you could be looking at one guy who is huge for the weight and could easily compete at 205 vs a guy who’s small, stuck between divisions and is only at 185 because the cut to 170 is too much of a stretch. When you look at the weight classes in Boxing, they’re all just a few pounds apart, and look at the fuss and negotiating that sometimes goes on over a fighter agreeing to concede a few pounds. And in MMA it should arguably be more important because a significant size and weight advantage really comes into play in a big way when it comes to grappling and also when you account for the smaller gloves. 

Then there’s the issue of weight cutting. We’re always talking about how something needs to be done about the really silly and dangerous weight cuts and we’re horrified when we see a fighter looking like death on the scales. Adding more weight classes wouldn’t eliminate the problem but it would surely help to some degree. If a fighter walks around at say 200lbs but he’s stocky and thick set and really has to struggle cutting that 15lbs to make Middleweight, but would be badly undersized at Light Heavy, it’s a tough spot to be in and they’ll probably never maximise their potential. Adding a 195 division, say Super Middleweight, would be a healthy middle ground. For the purposes of limiting some of the riskier weight cutting alone, I think it’s worth doing. 

As stubborn as he is, you‚Äôd think Dana would be all over it. The UFC have had this obsession for the longest time now of ‚Äėtitle fights MUST headline PPVs‚Äô. Even to the point of creating a gimmicky bollocks belt for this Masvidal vs Diaz fight. More divisions obviously means more champions to top your PPVs. You‚Äôd get some piss weak title fights, of course. But it would also open up possibilities for some amazing title fights. Imagine say, Yoel Romero vs Thiago Santos for¬†the gold at 195. Or GSP vs Khabib for a 165lbs¬†belt. Or Jones vs Rumble for a Cruiserweight strap at 225lbs. There are so many possibilities and we‚Äôd probably get better fights because in a lot of cases they wouldn‚Äôt be suffering so much on fight week from dehydration.¬†

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I remember discussing this a while ago, and I think it was David who made the point that, the lower the weight and the smaller the size of the fighter, the greater the differential in terms of "impact" on the fight, whereas in the upper divisions, the weight increments become decreasingly important. The difference, for example, between DC and Jones - the difference, in terms of weight, if DC was a HW and Jones was at LHW, is quite significant; a drop of 20lbs is all the difference between a flyweight and a featherweight. But proportionally, it doesn't affect them as it's a lower percentage of their body weight and in theory easier to gain or drop, and therefore it wasn't unreasonable for them to fight.

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Yeah whilst Weidman didn't mention any trouble with hitting the weight (that I heard), he did mention that he thought his body was breaking down and that he would sustain more injuries the lower his weight got.

That could well be why he was getting so hurt, as well as it being a case that your weight will naturally get lower the deeper you get into a camp, and the deeper you get in the camp, the more beat up you will be no matter what weight you are. 

 

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Looking at Weidman's performances, I really am left with the impression that Rockhold took his soul. He's shown glimpses of his old self, but not enough. At one point, he was undefeated, had smashed up one of the GOAT twice, and looked to be dominant, with wand on here even describing him as a "beast", and now he looks shot. I reckon Rockhold shot him.

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3 hours ago, Carbomb said:

I remember discussing this a while ago, and I think it was David who made the point that, the lower the weight and the smaller the size of the fighter, the greater the differential in terms of "impact" on the fight, whereas in the upper divisions, the weight increments become decreasingly important. The difference, for example, between DC and Jones - the difference, in terms of weight, if DC was a HW and Jones was at LHW, is quite significant; a drop of 20lbs is all the difference between a flyweight and a featherweight. But proportionally, it doesn't affect them as it's a lower percentage of their body weight and in theory easier to gain or drop, and therefore it wasn't unreasonable for them to fight.

Definitely some of this. It’s why if you look at most of the deaths and serious brain injuries in Boxing over the years, it’s usually the lighter weight classes where the tragedies happened. Very rarely Heavyweights or Cruiserweights. And the thinking was that weight cutting and dehydration was one of the main issues, as well as the same day weigh ins and 15 round fights. 

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I guess from a greedy UFC perspective, the more champions you have the more PPV points and bonuses you'll need to be dishing out, which is maybe why Dana isn't so keen. IIRC, interim champions get none of the perks a proper champion gets, rather it's supposed to be a guaranteed (lolz) shot at the proper belt, so it's a nice little money saver while also putting a belt in the main event.

There is no sporting reason they shouldn't have more. MW/LHW/WW are all stacked with some great fighters, some who will no doubt thrive in an in between weight.

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Regarding Weidman. I think his decline can be attributed to several factors. 

- Firstly, he had an incredibly tough run of opponents between 2015 and 2018. Namely, Jacare, Moose, Rockhold, Gastelum, and Romero - all of whom were in the prime of their careers. I don't think any middleweight in the history of the sport could have faced those 5 fighters in succession without suffering defeat. It also didn't help that most of those fighters were strong wrestlers/grapplers, which took away his primary advantage (he's an incredible takedown artist). Also, while Weidman is not a poor striker by any means, he isn't quite as good on the feet as some of those mentioned above. In short, he's a victim of the Middleweight division's improvement post-Anderson Silva. In fact, I believe he would have walked through every single fighter that Silva beat as champion. 

- In the fights he lost at Middleweight, he suffered a lot of damage. Mousasi's knee knocked him silly, Romero's knocked him out cold, Jacare stopped him late, and the Rockhold fight was a war. 

- His cardio perhaps isn't the best. For example, he was knackered at the end of round 2 in the Mousasi fight. I have seen some say that it's convenient that he's struggled since USADA's implementation. I'm not sure if I buy that. I don't recall him being a cardio machine before 2015 when USADA started testing UFC competitors. 

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There are certainly enough decent fighters to support a 195lbs weightclass. The likes of Romero, Santos, Anthony Smith, Costa and others would no doubt give 195lbs a whirl. It would also give Jones an opportunity to become a 2-weight world champion - as I think he might suit 195lbs better than Heavyweight. 

The only problem with adding a 195lbs division is that, generally speaking, the MMA talent pools dries up north of 185lbs. The Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions have not had much depth for years (although the 205lbs weightclass has shown improvement of late).Fighters would naturally abandon the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions for the new 195lbs weightclass. The Middleweight division has so much depth that, even with the recent departure of Rockhold and Weidman, it could withstand to lose a few fighters. But the Light-Heavyweight division would really struggle in years to come if a flock of its top contenders/prospects switched to 195lbs. 

Of course, in an ethical and sporting sense, I would support the formation of a 195lbs division for the reasons mentioned above. 

 

Edited by jimufctna24
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10 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

- His cardio perhaps isn't the best. For example, he was knackered at the end of round 2 in the Mousasi fight. I have seen some say that it's convenient that he's struggled since USADA's implementation. I'm not sure if I buy that. I don't recall him being a cardio machine before 2015 when USADA started testing UFC competitors. 

Great post, jim. I think there's a lot to this point in particular. If you look at his match with Rockhold, Sleazy Luke was holding his own pretty well in the grappling stakes against Weidman's wrestling, and I'm almost certain that knackered him to the point where he not only made a stupid mistake that Rockhold could capitalise on, but didn't have enough left in the tank to recover from and compensate for it.

 

As to the depth of talent point regarding weight classes, your points also have me thinking that we tend to forget how comparatively new MMA is - not just as a sport in itself, but as a sporting culture and infrastructure. Consequently, the global frameworks and tendencies of combat sports athletes to go into MMA, either from another discipline or straight in from the ground floor, are still in the process of being properly established, so the talent pool in general, whatever the weight, is still much more limited than that of boxing. Simply put, there's just not enough dedicated talent to go around, and certainly not enough to the level the UFC require to put on their roster. It may be that we're gradually coming to a point where there may be just enough to start introducing new divisions, but not quite.

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For me, the main driving aspect of more weight classes should be safety. Whichever way we carve it up, it's not good for anyone to dehydrate themselves to make weight then get punched in the head. That's a recipe for disaster.

Equally bad for you is deciding to not make that weight cut and jumping up 20lbs to get punched in the head by someone who is naturally bigger. Weidman was never winning that fight, he looked like a middleweight going up against someone who is a big light-heavy. It's not safe, and it shouldn't be happening in all honesty.

There should be a 10lb jump between weight classes, simple as that. 125lbs (flyweight), 135lbs (bantamweight), 145lbs (featherweight), 155lbs (lightweight), 165lbs (super-lightweight), 175lbs (welterweight), 185lbs (middleweight), 195lbs (super-middleweight), 205lbs (light-heavyweight), then heavyweight.

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1 hour ago, David said:

 

There should be a 10lb jump between weight classes, simple as that. 125lbs (flyweight), 135lbs (bantamweight), 145lbs (featherweight), 155lbs (lightweight), 165lbs (super-lightweight), 175lbs (welterweight), 185lbs (middleweight), 195lbs (super-middleweight), 205lbs (light-heavyweight), then heavyweight.

That always seemed to be the logical way to do it as far as I'm concerned. I suppose you would have some issues with scrapping 170 altogether and what happens  there. 

I'd also like to see an end to all this champ champ bollocks, it only serves to hold up entire divisions. Defend or vacate if you want to try your luck at another weight class. 

Edited by Guy Bifkin
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