It wasn’t all that long ago that fans and critics were calling for the UFC to add more weight classes to the lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions; and thankfully, they did.
Now with eight divisions for the men, the UFC can continue to pull more and more talent into the fold, especially from other countries where smaller fighters are more prevalent.
It’s only natural, really: as the sport grows, so does the company, and with more and more talent gathered, the house must expand, unless everyone likes sleeping five-to-a-room.
But recently, Nate Diaz—after suffering his first ever KO/TKO defeat, at the hands and feet of Josh Thompson—took to twitter with an interesting observation.
@ufc more weight classes ASAP??163,178,193More super fights more champion vs champion ,closer to weight better fights more potential ...— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) April 22, 2013
At first, this could be taken as nothing more than a fighter wanting special consideration for personal gain; after all, what fighter doesn’t want to be a champion?
But upon closer examination, it begins to make sense, at least partially.
There could be some serious benefits to the sport if more weight classes were added, mainly based around the fact that the 10-pound difference between the classes makes for a wide gap when one fighter moves up into a division that is full of fighters cutting 15 pounds or more to make the weight.
Of course, weight cutting is just a part of the fight game, and it always will be, but more weight classes could help make for more competitive bouts by thinning out the weight advantages.
But if we are really going to be honest, adding divisions at 163 pounds (super lightweight or junior welterweight), 178 pounds (super welterweight or junior middleweight) and 193 pounds (super middleweight) would seem to be taking aim in the wrong directions.
As the UFC continues to go global, there are still many fighters out there that are going to be too small for the current eight divisions the UFC has planned. Thus far, the lightest division has a basement of 116 pounds, which may end up leaving many future fighters from the lighter divisions with no place to ply their trade on the biggest stage.
A junior flyweight class (105 pounds to 115 pounds) could be created to make sure smaller fighters from Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China and other countries could enter into the UFC; when you look at the lower weight classes in boxing, almost every single champion from 122 pounds and lower is from another country, and some of them are close to becoming the next superstars in boxing, such as Nonito Donaire.
After that, adding divisions at 163 pounds and 178 pounds would be about as far as the company should take things: after all, the more a fighter weighs, the more he can afford the weight cut; no matter how badly some may want to spread those weight divisions out, if they become too thin, the belts hold lesser value.
Sadly for Diaz, it is doubtful that any divisions above 155 will be added in the next three years, simply because the UFC is already going in several different directions at once.
Also, adding more divisions and thus crowning more champions does not guarantee more Superfights; those rare species of fights aren’t happening now mainly because champions want to stay champions for as long as they can, and moving up even five pounds in weight is more than many fighters with gold around their waist are willing to risk.
So, for now, eight divisions and eight champions is the standard, and honestly, it isn’t a bad one at that.