In today's world of Mixed Martial Arts, we herald good fighters who cut down to a lighter weight class.
In theory, you would think this would always be a good thing, and in theory, you'd be wrong.
Nowhere has this been better illustrated than the case study of Alistair Overeem—a fighter who started his career in the 205 lb division, amassing wins over Vitor Belfort, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Sergei Kharitonov.
For a time, Pride viewed "The Demolition Man," as a potential star for the future, comparing him to Wanderlei Silva in pre-fight video packages.
Then his career stagnated as the 205 lb division continued its ascent to claiming the mantle of MMA's deepest division.
He lost four of his last five fights at 205 lbs, including miserable defeats to Ricardo Arona and a rematch with Sergei Kharitonov.
This is where he and his camp at Golden Glory earned their stripes.
As a LHW, Alistair gains a more pronounced reach advantage, which by the book is an incredibly valuable thing.
However, Overeem excels from the clinch—his entire game relies on it. His ruthless Thai knees and crushing guillotine are his trademark attacks.
This means holding a reach advantage isn't a huge gain for him. Furthermore, the cost of making 205 lbs was far greater.
Alistair Overeem's training couldn't involve much in the way of weight training, as the added muscle would make it impossible for him to make the 206 lb Light Heavyweight limit.
For a man who does his work on the inside, strength and stamina are important assets, and both couldn't be developed to their potential without a move up.
As a result, in a number of his fights he was pushed around and bullied.
To make matters worse, Overeem has tremendous difficulty recovering from punches.
He famously tapped out to a series of light rabbit punches from Ricardo Arona because the room wouldn't stop spinning.
In short, staying at 205 lbs was a death sentence as Alistair Overeem's skills required he add strength, and he couldn't do that at 205 lbs.
Thus his rise through the ranks of both K-1 and MMA, are no surprise when seen through this prism.
While we don't know if Alistair Overeem's new found Hulk-ish physique is 100 percent authentic, the truth of the matter is "Ubereem" is now a legitimate top 10 fighter in the physical prime of his career.
While the media and a certain powerhouse MMA conglomerate would like you to think the answer for all fighter ills is to cut down a weight class, the facts are you have to take it on a case-by-case standard.
What is the fighter hoping to gain by making the move? What is the depth of the division he's at versus the division he's moving too? How would he match up with the top 10 of his new division?
These are the questions we need to ask of fighters that move divisions, and in the case of Alistair Overeem, moving up was the only answer.
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