When Fedor Emelianenko lost to Antonio Silva, Fedor's apologists were quick to say that Fedor was simply too small for Silva, and further, that there should be a cruiserweight division in MMA.
This kind of line of thinking brought me back to a few years ago when people were saying the same thing after Brock Lesnar defeated Randy Couture.
The truth is the same then as it was now: there is no need for a cruiserweight division in MMA.
There are many reasons why there is no need for a cruiserweight division, but I'll just reiterate a few of the best ones.
1. The Historical Record
Over the short history of MMA, the best heavyweights have rarely been the 265-pounders. As Jordan Breen mentioned on the Sherdog radio network yesterday, the two best historical heavyweights, Fedor and Minotauro Nogueira, were small heavyweights in their primes.
The best heavyweight today, Cain Velasquez, is only an average-sized heavyweight at around 240 pounds.
Fabricio Werdum fights best at around 240 pounds. When he fights at over 250 pounds, he gets knocked out by Junior Dos Santos.
2. Obvious Physical Limitations
The reason the best heavyweights aren't the 265-pounders may have something to do with the physical tradeoffs of being gigantic.
Gigantic heavyweights like Shane Carwin usually don't have the cardio to keep up if a tough fight drags on past the seven-minute mark.
Aside from cardio issues, other big heavyweights struggle with a lack of quickness on the feet and on the ground.
Smaller heavyweights run the risk of being out-muscled, but they can reap big rewards from having better agility and endurance.
3. Where 225 Pounders Can Fight
If you're walking around at 225 pounds, or are a bit tubby at 230 pounds, you're well within the range of being able to cut to 205 pounds.
Even welterweight fighters are often cutting 20 pounds to make the welterweight limit. A 20-pound cut for a 225-pounder is a much smaller cut proportionally.
Randy Couture chose to fight at heavyweight because he had a better chance at beating Tim Sylvia than he thought he had at beating Liddell again. But he wasn't ever too big to be naturally fighting at 205 pounds.
Fedor Emelianenko is fat at 230 pounds. He could probably make 185 pounds if he trained and dieted. He'd be a small 205er.
4. Who Could Make A Theoretical 235 Pound Weight Limit?
Given that a 20-pound weight cut is fairly common and achievable, what heavyweights could make it?
Overeem is probably only about five pounds away from being able to make that limit.
Carwin could, and probably should lose a few pounds, and could make that limit.
Velasquez would hardly need to cut weight at all to make that limit.
That would leave Antonio Silva and Brock Lesnar left alone to fight for the heavyweight title.
5. Fedor Didn't Lose Because Antonio Silva Was Bigger
To say that Fedor lost because of weight alone is ridiculous.
Fedor lost because he was losing striking exchanges on the feet, has sub-par takedown defense, and didn't use the fundamental positional grappling moves that could have allowed him to fare better after Silva took him down.
As Josh Gross pointed out, a simple hip escape to regain half guard could have saved him a lot of damage.