MMA Open-Weight Tournament: Why not?

Fortun KimuraContributor ISeptember 4, 2008

The human body has its limits and towards each extreme there are advantages and disadvantages. For example take a look at Olympic Weightlifters. The little guys lift much more in comparison to their bodyweight than the big guys. Does this mean the big guys are lazy? No, they’re only human.

To understand why fans will ask for an Open-Weight Tournament you have to look at the cultural meaning of martial arts. A martial art is more than just self-defense. It represents the Bruce Lee-like little guys who have the ability to be victorious over stronger and bigger opponents.

While the early-UFC showed the little guy, Royce Gracie, forcing fighters twice his size to submit, today’s MMA has evolved. The big guys don’t just depend on their strength. They also have skills comparable or even exceeding that of smaller opponents; just take a look at Fedor Emelianenko, who many see as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

The important aspects of MMA can be argued to be: speed, strength, technique, and conditioning. Which one is the most important? Conditioning followed by technique then speed and lastly strength (Speed and strength can be reversed, but in truth a slow punch or a slow attempt at a submission is not going to get anyone anywhere).

So you see, as the importance of an aspect decreases, its correlation to a large fighter increases.  With equal skill a bout between a small fighter and a large fighter could theoretically end up being a long fight. But this is only speculation. Or is it?

C.B. Dollaway, granted he is only one weight class below “Rampage” Jackson, submitted him in a playful (or was it?) grappling match.

The question pops up of what would happen if two skilled opponents of different weight-classes really fought?

Lets take a look at the Pride Open-Weight Tournament. A true display of skill was seen when Wanderlei Silva a Light-Heavyweight defeated Kazuyuki Fujita, a heavyweight. Yes, the same Fujita who rocked the great Fedor Emelianenko. But again there was only one weight class difference between the two.

Ah, but I will trump thee with the Penn. B.J. Penn to be exact. BJ Penn has fought in weight classes as low as 155lbs and as high as the light heavyweight 205lbs, putting up an impressive fight against UFC’s future Light-Heavyweight contender in Lyoto Machida.

Now before you start screaming vulgarities at the computer screen, I want you to think about what it means to be in any specific weight class. Is Brock Lesnar really a heavyweight if he cuts 30 lbs to reach the 265lb maximum?  Or what about Thiago Alves who reportedly walks around at 205lbs and cuts to 175lbs? Or even the overprotected Anderson Silva?

But what about those guys who really do belong to a very light weight class? Well I’m definitely not proposing Miguel Torres fight the likes of Hong Man Choi. All I want to know is who the best fighter is. Is that too much to ask for?