In a sport where the men have 8 different weight classes and the women are getting set to christen their third weight division champion, the question on many peoples minds is if there is truly a need for fighters to regularly compete across multiple weight classes. Conor Mc Gregor has proved that he can be a massive draw in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions becoming the first person in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time, however short lived. Now, however, it seems as if more and more fighters, champions included, are making their case that they want to have the freedom to fight in multiple divisions at the same time.
Competition breeds competition
Simply go on UFC.com and click on any of the weight classes and you’ll find the current rankings and list of all the fighters who are actively competing in that division. Featherweight, for example, currently lists 75 fighters that are under contract to the UFC just for that division. Conor Mc Gregor, who the UFC forced to vacate the title is not among these names. And this is the problem. How can you take the rankings seriously when the former title holder isn’t even ranked in the top 15 in the division. Then we have the case of Doanld Cerrone. Currently, Cerrone is the #11 ranked lightweight and the #5 ranked welterweight. Cerrone is however a special case, as he is a fighter willing to take on fights at short notice at nearly any weight class. It would be very interesting to see if he would contine this trend if he were to win either the lightweight or welterweight title. My gut feeling is he probably would.
What good are rankings?
I truly feel that as long as a fighter can make weight and have a good fight that the UFC should allow them to fight across weight classes. However, I have to say that when a champion becomes involved I think they need to earn their spot and not just get a title shot because it will draw a crowd. Amanda Nunes has made statements saying that she is already potentially looking at moving up to featherweight for a shot at the winner of Holy Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie. It remains to be seen how many fighters the women’s featherweight division will attract. Apparently the UFC believes it will be enough, but surely the first title shot should go to Cris Cyborg, the woman that put the 145 pound weight class on the map. The same can be said about Cody Garbrant’s recent comments that he’d love a shot at Jose Aldo and the featherweight belt. There are a number of great fighters, Cub Swanson, Frankie Edgar and Ricard Lamas to name just a few who deserve a shot when the dust finally settles between Aldo and Holloway.
Dana White has proven in the past that he wants his fighter to have “larger than life” personalities and is a big fan of when fighters call each other out. (See Mickey Gall) It creates drama and drives up pay per view buy rates and again I’m all for that. BUT, I still think that guy or girls jumping the line and getting a title shot over more “deserving” competitors hurts the division as a whole, but that’s just my opinion.
Image from UFC.com