THE BOOK OF MMA PROPHECIES
A look into the many possible futures of MMA.
Prophecies translated by Andrew McGuigan.
“A fresh home shall be built for those many new warriors of the world, too big to be small, too small to be big. Look to the one whose name matches his libido for example.”
The introduction of a UFC Cruiser weight class
Where are we now?
Dana has now completed integrating Bantam and Featherweight divisions from the WEC and has even stated the UFC would like to introduce a Flyweight (125 lb) division in the future. Following this, it will become more apparent that the heavy end of the division needs some attention and balancing.
Just for perspective, from Bantamweight to light heavyweight (135-205lbs) there is an 80 lb spread over seven weight classes. There is a 60 lb spread in the heavyweight class alone.
There can be a big difference between a heavyweight who weighs in at 220lbs and someone who has to cut to get under 265lbs. Who can forget the size differences in battles between Antonio Bigfoot Silva vs Fedor or Brock vs Randy.
That is not to suggest that the likes of Bigfoot and Lesner are typical heavyweights, and it is certainly not the case that by definition smaller heavyweights are underdogs, as made clear by current champion Cain Velasquez who weighs in at 240 lbs.
Having packed on the muscle to fight Shane Carwin and then been defeated, Frank Mir hinted that he may consider dropping to 205lbs to remain competitive.
“I’m kind of curious where I’d fall at, because some of the guys I train with that are light heavyweights and bone structure’s are the same. Sometimes I stand next to Forrest Griffin and think I’m in the wrong weight class.”
Whether a joke or not, it certainly illustrates the fact that heavyweights would have to make a massive cut to get to a lighter division. Perhaps Forrest is not the best example for Frank’s comparison; he is another who is known to cut 20lbs to make light-heavyweight.
How will this change?
Introducing a Cruiser class would bring a balance to the vast weight range of heavyweights, often dominated by those fighting at the very upper weight limit.
One additional belt at the top end would provide a home for a whole host of fighters who find the cut to 205 too much, but can look undersized compared to the majority of heavyweights.
Randy Couture is the very definition of a ‘natural’ cruiserweight, having drifted between heavy and light heavy and back again twice during his career.
A reasonable weight range for cruiser class would be 206-230 lbs giving a 24 lb range, leaving heavyweight at 231-265 lbs with a 34 lb range.
The UFC heavyweight class is currently deep with talent, maybe the best it has ever been. Now is not the time to split it down the middle into cruiser / heavyweight.
The usual objection is that it would ruin an exciting division, and that certainly would be true, if we imagined that the division would be formed solely by pulling smaller fighters from the existing heavyweight ranks. Randy, Cro-Cop, Kongo, Nogeira and Pat Barry are all fighters who would suit cruiserweight, but they would weaken the current heavyweight ranks by leaving. We should be looking to the future fighters, not the present.
It seems ridiculous to assume that although fresh fighters are constantly starting new professional careers in all other weight classes, for some reason there would be a shortage willing to fight at Cruiser weight.
What about the many large light-heavyweights past and present who would like to stop cutting weight and move up a class, but currently would be faced by the likes of Carwin and Lesner? How many young and unknown fighters currently unable to find a suitable weight class in which to excel and make their name? Remember that non wrestlers typically have a much harder time cutting large amounts of weight. What about all of the future upcoming fighters from around the world that will be looking to fit in wherever they can when the UFC comes to country?
Likelihood and timescale?
The Ohio Athletic Commission has introduced a cruiserweight division at amateur level, specifically to cater for those ‘out of class’ fighters just starting out. They have had a lot of positive response to the trial, which allows people to fight as beginners at natural weight, without having to cut or gain weight just to be competitive.
In years to come there will be many more fighters emerging from newly conquered UFC territories of Brazil, Mexico, Sweden etc.
A few simultaneous international seasons of cruiser weight TUF could bring in a bulk of talent to quickly bring the division up to speed, possibly culminating in an exciting tournament to determine the first champion. There will be no need to raid the existing heavy or light-heavy roster and if it was a concern, Dana and company could easily put a block on Heavyweights dropping down for the first year, just to play safe. In fact far from being drained, the future heavyweights will in the end be joined by many natural cruiserweights looking to move up in weight, something that rarely happens with today’s light heavyweights.
We could easily see a UFC 206-230lb division being formed within three years.