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MMA Does Not Need A Cruiserweight Division

Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar UFC 91 Weigh-Ins
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No other fighter with the perhaps the exception of Kimbo Slice has been a hotter topic of debate in 2008 than Brock Lesnar. He’s a freakishly athletic 285lbs monster who just happens be a former NCAA D-1 wrestler who won a national championship. He’s only been in four professional MMA fights, yet, OMG, he has a UFC title. For some reason, the fact that he beat Randy Couture to win that title has now led some people to believe Lesnar is unbeatable unless he were to face Fedor Emelianenko. Brock’s just too big, too strong, too fast, too good of a wrestler they say.

I don’t agree, at all, but the notion Lesnar is too big has opened the door for a new question. Does mixed martial arts need a cruiserweight division so guys like Randy Couture don’t have to fight guys that outweigh them by 60lbs? That question was posed in two articles that were recently published at MMA Memories and Here are their arguments for it.

MMA Memories:

1. Does a new weight class need to be added between Light Heavyweight (186-205 pounds) and Heavyweight (206-265 pounds)?

Our answer: Yes.

By the time Brock Lesnar got into the cage against Randy Couture, he had nearly a 60-pound weight advantage over his opponent. Does it take skill and power to win in an MMA fight? Sure. If size was the only important factor in MMA, then Zulu would have beat Fedor a few years ago in the PRIDE ring. With that said, given UFC’s current weight-class structure, it is time to add a new weight class. In no other separation of weight classes is there as big of a discrepancy as there is between Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight. The result? Many fighters who naturally walk around between 230-250 pounds are forced to either fight as a ’small’ heavyweight or have to make an extreme weight cut to fight at Light Heavyweight.

Lesnar, UFC’s Heavyweight champion, is naturally a Super Heavyweight. The same situation applied to Tim Sylvia as well. Sylvia’s size certainly played a major role in how long he was UFC Heavyweight champion.

Our suggestion — make the Heavyweight class from 206-240 pounds, Super Heavyweight 241-275 pounds, and an Absolute class 276 pounds or higher. While not a perfect solution, it would certainly help alleviate some huge weight differences in the current heavier weight classes.

As mixed martial arts continues to evolve, its heavyweights do as well. Many are bigger, stronger and more athletic than ever.

Lesnar has become the prototype of this growing class of heavyweights. Its presence will only make it more difficult for the Coutures of the world to reach the top.

A significant number of heavyweights currently tip the scales comfortably around 225 to 235 pounds. These are large men, but against Lesnar or even Shane Carwin, they’d find themselves at distinct size disadvantages.

The time might be ripe for a cruiserweight division in MMA. It is a problem boxing has already addressed.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with their argument that smaller heavyweights, like Randy Couture, shouldn’t have to fight at such a huge weight disadvantage, I don’t think that’s reason enough alone to warrant a new weight class.

The reason why is simple. The heavyweight division is just too thin, especially in the current landscape.

For a moment, let’s assume this change was implemented and the heavyweight division was split up into two separate weight classes—206-240 & 241-275—as MMA Memories suggested. In the UFC, you would now have Nogueira, Couture, Liddell (if he moves), Velasquez, and maybe, dos Santos if he proves to be more than a one-hit wonder, competing for one belt, and Lesnar, Mir, Herring, Gonzaga, and Carwin competing for the other. Basically, it would be a rotation of four or five guys in each new weight class fighting each other instead of all 10. Perhaps, that would be necessary if the smaller guys couldn’t compete with the bigger guys, but the difference here is that they can.

Is there anybody on the 241-275 list that Nogueira couldn’t beat? How about Randy? He’s already beaten Gonzaga, and would certainly beat Herring. And Lesnar, yes, he lost to Lesnar, but he was not dominated by Brock Lesnar. I repeat, Brock Lesnar did not dominate Randy Couture. If they were to fight again, I don’t think you could rule out the possibility of Couture winning. If Lesnar dominated anyone it was Heath Herring, who would fall into the heavier weight class. And what about Liddell? He couldn’t compete with any of the bigger guys? I think you could make a case that he could beat every last one of them.

Now if the landscape were to all of a sudden shift and the UFC owned the heavyweight division like they own the light heavyweight division, then maybe there’s just enough depth there to make two compelling divisions. You would add Fedor, Arlovski, Overeem, Cro Cop and Kharitonov to the smaller divison, and Barnett, Sylvia, and Rothwell to the heavier divison (forgive me if I’ve left anyone out). The problem I have with this though is the same as above. The small guys can beat the big guys.

Is there anyone on any list Fedor wouldn’t beat? How about a on-his-game Arlovski? He may have trouble with Lesnar if he ended up on his back, but you can’t say he couldn’t win. Cro Cop’s beat Barnett how many times now? Overeem would give every one of them a tough fight.

Point being, why separate them when the smaller fighters could just as easily rack up as many wins against the big guys as the big guys could against them?

It’s a good idea in theory, but right now it’s just not practical. Maybe if there were five or six Fedor Emelianenko’s that had Brock Lesnar’s physical attributes, there would be a need, and perhaps in ten years there will be. But for now, MMA needs a cruiserweight division about as much as Bas Rutten needs a Red Bull.

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