UFC 155: Tim Boetsch and 9 Fighters Who Saved Their Career by Dropping Weight
On Saturday night, middleweights Tim Boetsch and Costa Philippou will do battle in a clash between fighters who are each pulling a freight train worth of momentum behind them. When competing at 185 pounds, the two have a combined record of 8-0 inside the Octagon.
But Boetsch hasn't always been a middleweight. In fact, he fought six times in the UFC before making the much-needed move.
With a UFC record of 3-3, "The Barbarian" had suffered losses to Matt Hamill, Phil Davis and Jason Brilz. In each shortcoming, he lost to a larger man with a considerable wrestling background. So what chance would he have against the elite light heavyweights like Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and Jon Jones who could each wrestle an elephant in their sleep?
Despite the need to lose 20 pounds, the muscled Boetsch did his homework and realized that a drop to middleweight was possible. It proved to be the best thing that ever happened to him, as he is ranked in the division's top five and has wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard.
Boetsch isn't the only UFC star who has saved himself by cutting down to a smaller division. Here is a look at nine UFC fighters who saved their careers by dropping weight.
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Tim Boetsch was once a member of the UFC light heavyweight roster, and a rather forgettable one at that. Holding a mediocre record of 2-2 in the division, he was released from his contract and sent to the independents in hopes that he would retool his game.
After earning his way back into the company, Boetsch was manhandled by wrestling stud Phil Davis before realizing that 205 pounds may not be the best environment for his frame.
Since dropping into the middleweight division, Boetsch has etched wins over notables Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard to highlight his four-fight win streak.
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UFC lightweight Jacob Volkmann might be the best example of a fighter whose career was saved by a drop in weight class. After all, most fighters who go winless in their first stint with the UFC are not offered a return trip.
Volkmann was undefeated upon entering the UFC welterweight division, but quickly dropped his first two fights against Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann. The losses were worthy of a pink slip, but Dana White was grateful to any fighter at UFC 108 and refused to fire any man who competed on the notoriously plagued card.
Not taking his second life for granted, Volkmann cut down to 155 pounds and began a grappling-based reign of terror that earned him five consecutive wins. Today, he holds an enviable record of 6-1 in the most stacked division in MMA history.
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While Michael Bisping was 4-1 as a light heavyweight, there is no question that moving the middleweight saved his career. Prior to a loss against Rashad Evans, Bisping had considerable trouble against wrestler Matt Hamill at UFC 75. The latter bout was won via split decision, although it was as controversial as they come.
"The Count" recognized that he was in deep waters against much larger men and cut the necessary 20 pounds to compete at middleweight. Since the drop, Bisping is 9-3 inside the Octagon, with losses to Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva coming in razor-thin decisions.
These days, Bisping is a front-runner for a title shot against Anderson Silva. If he gets past Vitor Belfort next month, he is widely expected to receive his first championship opportunity.
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Let's make some noise for the little guys!
Demetrious Johnson used his quickness and talent to find a lot of success in Zuffa's 135-pound division, although he was well aware of the fact that he was undersized against every single opponent he came across.
After a shutout loss against bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, Johnson's career had slammed into a wall. It didn't appear that there was much room for upward movement in the lightest weight class available.
When the UFC opened the doors to the flyweight division, Johnson was immediately entered into the four-man tournament that would crown a champion.
"Mighty Mouse" won consecutive bouts against the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked flyweights in the world (Ian McCall and Joseph Benavidez) in order to win the tournament and secure his place in the history books.
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Six years ago, Chael Sonnen was competing in the UFC as a light heavyweight. Although he competes in that same division today, it was his run at middleweight that made him a world-ranked star whose name is known by sports fans across the globe.
Sonnen parted ways with Zuffa after UFC 60 and returned to the middleweight division, which was better suited for his frame. He made waves in November 2008 when he dethroned undefeated WEC champion Paulo Filho, whom Anderson Silva had called "the best middleweight."
Later, "The American Gangsta" would out-wrestle Silva for 22 and a half minutes in hopes of capturing UFC gold in the middleweight division. Although he came up short, his dominance in that fight made Sonnen a household name.
Sonnen returns to the light heavyweight division in early 2013 when he meets Jon Jones in a coaches fight that follows The Ultimate Fighter 17.
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You'll notice that a lot of light heavyweights-gone-middleweight occupy this list. Brian Stann is the next member of that club.
Stann was once the WEC light heavyweight champion who didn't seem capable of hanging with the 205-pounders who were fighting with the UFC. He left the division after going 2-2, with wins over promotional newcomer Rodney Wallace and fellow WEC import Steve Cantwell.
Since the drop, Stann has exponentially improved his resume by knocking out notables Chris Leben, Alessio Sakara and Jorge Santiago. His only losses came against the division's top fighters: Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen.
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These WEC light heavyweights just seem to thrive in the UFC middleweight division.
Mark Munoz opened his professional record at 5-0. All of those fights came at 205 pounds, and they earned him a crack at Matt Hamill at UFC 96. It wasn't a fight that "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" wants to remember, as he was head kicked into a coma within the confines of the opening frame.
The loss made Munoz consider dropping to a lighter division, and the results have been encouraging. Winning seven of his first eight fights, Munoz has now headlined two UFC events and was part of history at UFC 138 when he participated in the organization's first five-round non-title fight.
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But didn't Randy revitalize his career by moving up to heavyweight and beating Tim Sylvia? Absolutely! However, cutting to light heavyweight had more impact on Couture's career than any other move.
After winning the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament and then the heavyweight title, Couture made a name for himself in a weight class with an upper limit of 265 pounds. When larger opponents like Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez burst onto the scene, "The Natural" looked dwarfed inside the Octagon.
Following a pair of stoppage losses to the aforementioned heavyweights, Couture decided to cut down to 205 pounds in hopes of becoming the first man to win gold in two weight classes.
At UFC 43, Couture did the seemingly impossible when he finished off top contender Chuck Liddell. It was a fight that few thought the then-40-year-old could win. After all, he was over the hill, and "The Iceman" was the uncrowned champion that had scared Tito Ortiz away from the UFC.
Were that not enough, Couture would further cement his legacy by dominating a returning Ortiz at UFC 44 to become the undisputed UFC champion.
Not bad for a guy who had lost three of his last five fights.
Some fighters change divisions in hopes of finding more success in a new landscape. Kenny Florian made a career out of it.
When The Ultimate Fighter began casting their debut season, there was no welterweight or lightweight division in mind. Florian elected to compete as a middleweight in hopes of securing a UFC contract and then dropping to a weight class more suited to his body.
At middleweight, Florian would have been dwarfed by nearly every member of the roster, and he knew it. After losing to Diego Sanchez in the tournament final, Florian dropped to welterweight until the UFC opened up a lightweight division, where he twice challenged for the UFC championship.
Gray Maynard dominated Kenny Florian in his final lightweight contest, which convinced Ken-Flo to drop one more time in hopes of capturing his elusive UFC title.
Florian defeated Diego Nunes in his featherweight debut and put up a valiant effort against champion Jose Aldo in his third crack at a belt.
Florian is the only UFC fighter to compete in four different weight classes.