Who Would Rule MMA If Weight Divisions Did Not Exist?
Regardless of the label, MMA organizations all over the world use weight divisions to keep semblance, to provide a level playing field and to protect the integrity of the sport.
Of the nine divisions in the UFC, including the newly formed women's bantamweight division, the fighters in the four lightest divisions (flyweight, women's bantamweight, bantamweight and featherweight) are the most sensitive to weight changes.
On the contrary, heavyweights like Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier have no problem locking horns with hulking opponents like Brock Lesnar and Antonio Silva. That's because the American Kickboxing Academy teammates come equipped with the necessary ingredients to dominate larger foes.
With no weight restrictions, however, UFC champs like Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo and Benson Henderson would struggle to maintain job security.
In essence, only fighters in the welterweight division and above could realistically hack it in a world of MMA promotions with no weight divisions.
But of the upper-echelon fighters who compete at 170 pounds and above, who would genuinely reign supreme in an open weight division?
Although six of the UFC's 10 best pound-for-pound fighters probably couldn't compete, the remaining four top dogs certainly could. Anderson Silva (No. 1), Jon Jones (No. 2), Georges St-Pierre (No. 3) and Velasquez (No. 6) possess the dexterity needed to cross over and succeed in several different weight classes.
Other contenders like Junior dos Santos, Daniel Cormier and Lyoto Machida, just to name a few, also have the potential to flourish in an absolute weight division.
But the first title fight that would come to fruition in the UFC under these guidelines would pit pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva vs. light heavyweight champ Jones.
Silva and Jones would justifiably get title nods in this hypothetical scenario because of their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings, respectively.
However, "The Spider" and "Bones" each possess ideal physical gifts and diverse skill sets in their MMA arsenals, which make them legitimate threats—even to venomous heavyweights like Velasquez.
For Velasquez, who tips the scales at around 240 lb and sports a 77" reach, matching up with Silva (77.6") in terms of size and reach would seem easy. Dealing with Jones (84.5") and his extraordinary range, on the other hand, would pose a much stiffer challenge.
St-Pierre (76") could also virtually match Silva in the reach department, but the longtime welterweight champ would struggle to close the distance and attempt to grapple with the freakishly long Jones.
MMA would change radically if no weight classes existed, but very little would alter for The Spider and Bones, who would still sit comfortably at the top of the food chain.
It sure seems tantalizing to envision the potential action that would ensue if fighters like Silva and Jones took on heavier opponents such as Cormier and dos Santos.
For now, though, the best alternative in terms of weight diversity appears to be superfights like Silva vs. Jones, Cormier vs. Jones and St-Pierre vs. Silva.
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