Weight Class Revisions

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Weight Class Revisions

Recently, the Association of Boxing Commissions proposed an amendment to the U.S. Mixed Martial Arts Weight Classes.  For reference, these are the current weight classes:

 

MMA)">Flyweight 125 lb / 57 kg

Bantamweight 135 lb / 61 kg

Featherweight 145 lb / 66 kg

Lightweight 155 lb / 70 kg

Welterweight 170 lb / 77 kg

Middleweight 185 lb / 84 kg

Light Heavyweight 205 lb / 93 kg

Heavyweight 265 lb / 120 kg

Super Heavyweight No upper weight limit

The proposed amendments would add an additional 5 "Super" classes to the standing weight classes:

 

Flyweight 105 lb / 47.6 kg

Super Flyweight 115 lb / 52.2 kg

Bantamweight 125 lb / 56.7 kg

Super Bantamweight 135 lb / 61.2 kg

Featherweight 145 lb / 65.8 kg

Lightweight 155 lb / 70.3 kg

Super Lightweight 165 lb / 74.8 kg

Welterweight 175 lb / 79.4 kg

Super Welterweight 185 lb / 83.9 kg

Middleweight 195 lb / 88.5 kg

Super Middleweight 205 lb / 93.0 kg

Light Heavyweight 225 lb / 102.1 kg

Heavyweight 265 lb / 120.2 kg

Super Heavyweight No upper weight limit

These changes were rejected by the UFC, which I support from a fan's point of view. Adding that many additional classes over-complicates the roster, and would provide too many opportunities for fighters to constantly move up and down in weight to fight different opponents and potentially claim multiple titles.  However, from a fighter's point of view, the additional weight classes would provide a more comfortable fit for many competitors. 

I walk around at 165, and under the current weight classes I'd need to cut 10 lbs to get to the Lightweight class where I'd stand to be the bigger, stronger fighter.  If I stay in the Welterweight division, I could potentially fight someone who walks around at 180 if they follow the same logic and cut 10 lbs off their weight.  While the difference between 180 and 165 may not seem significant from an observer's point of view, grappling with someone who carries even an extra five pounds on you can significantly reduce your available energy and give them the edge...when you get into the heavier divisions, the differences become even more dramatic.  Cutting weight is grueling, as anyone who's watched The Ultimate Fighter can see; the process of losing the weight is only half of the task, slowly recovering from the dehydration and restricted calorie intake over the next 24 hours is just as important and just as difficult to do right.  The stress on the system can cause you to tire faster during the fight and reduce your power and speed as well, especially if the procedure isn't done with surgical precision.

Given the opportunity to fight at the weight I'm naturally at, without going through the ordeal of cutting weight, would be a huge boon to performance and confidence for me. But does the benefit to the fighters that fall in between classes outweigh adding complexity to a relatively new sport trying to attract the casual fight fan? 

Unfortunately, I can't justify it. But at least it's not the old school UFC, devoid of any weight classes until UFC 12 and even then instituting just two:

Heavyweight - Over 200 lbs 

Lightweight - Under 200 lbs

Makes the 176 lbs Royce Gracie even more of a stud when you consider the size of the guys he beat in the formative years, like Ken Shamrock (205 lbs) in UFC 1 and "The Beast" Dan Severn (250 lbs) in UFC 4.

 

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