The recent news that the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) voted unanimously to add four new weight classes has been met with mixed reviews. Some, like yours truly, cannot wait for it to become a reality. Others, like UFC President Dana White, have dismissed the notion.
The ABC has given the blessing for any promotion to add the following weight classes:
165 pounds (super lightweight)
175 pounds (super welterweight)
195 pounds (super middleweight)
225 pounds (cruiserweight)
They also stated they are not mandatory so rest assured Dana is nodding quite happily and going about his merry way. But hold on a second.
There was once a time when MMA was No Holds Barred and had no weight divisions. Then there was UFC 7: David vs. Goliath, where we got a taste of what the smaller guys could do versus the big boys. Slowly but surely, we got two weight classes. Then three, then what we have today.
The sport continues to evolve, and like anything in life and of course in the UFC’s eyes, in business, there is always pushback. Change is met with resistance, but MMA evolution is like water, and has a way of flowing around or over The Great (Dana) White Wall.
Let’s not forget it was Dana who said we would never see lighter weight classes. Then came BJ Penn. But there would be nothing lower than his lightweight division. Then the purchase of the WEC brought us the featherweights and bantamweights. Shortly thereafter, the flyweights.
These were all met with trepidation from the UFC President and for those who may have forgotten, he was fairly adamant that we would never see women’s MMA in the UFC. Until bantamweight Ronda Rousey showed up. Then a second division (strawweight) was added. Then a third (featherweight), and later this year, a fourth (flyweight).
The aforementioned weight classes are going to be added soon and I am of the belief that it will not dilute the sport like the naysayers are stating. I do not believe their argument that MMA will become like boxing where there will simply be too many weight classes. Au contraire.
I have long been a proponent that MMA should have weight classes that are separated by 10 lbs. This whole 15 lbs difference between lightweight and welterweight, as well as welterweight to middleweight is far too challenging for many of the sport’s elite fighters. There’s also a 20 lbs difference between middleweight and light heavyweight. And heavyweight is a weight class with a floor to ceiling range of sixty lbs.
Two of the four weight classes proposed by the ABC (super lightweight and super welterweight) will be stacked if the UFC announced they adopted them by tomorrow. Names like Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Nick and Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, etc, would be vying to become new divisional champs.
And that is exactly what the UFC and fans want. Champions. Title fights. Bouts that mean something. Imagine every main event on a UFC pay per view and/or Fight Night, headlined by a championship bout.
This is a perfect scenario for the UFC - they would have eleven (male) champions on their roster, as well as four women’s champs. That’s 15 champions that could all go in rotation to headline or co-headline an event.
This seems like a win-win scenario for the UFC, the fighters, the fans and us pundits in the media. Despite Dana White’s current positioning, once he sees the long term financial incentive in adopting these weight classes, he will come around. He didn’t become a multi-millionaire by chance.
Critics can rip him apart all they want, but the almighty dollar sign is what will change his positioning and should WME-IMG get wind of this, they will tell him to put the plan into action.
Stay tuned. It’s going to happen. I firmly believe it will.