mma / Columns

Pros and Cons of More UFC Weight Classes

October 12, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Lambert
Kevin Lee UFC

Last weekend at UFC 216, Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee to capture the UFC interim lightweight championship. Following the bout, and Lee’s near weight-cutting disaster, talk of adding a 165-pound division popped up. Lee felt that a 165-pound division must happen in the near future as some guys are just too big to cut to 155, but too small to be competitive at 170.

Dana White quickly shot down the idea, saying that Lee didn’t cut weight the right way.

Adding more weight classes isn’t a new topic. Years ago, there was talk of a 195-pound division. Rich Franklin had become second fiddle to Anderson Silva at middleweight, but was too small to hang with bigger and stronger light heavyweights. Franklin had multiple fights at 195-pounds, but nothing ever came to fruition as far as an actual division.

Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of the UFC adding more weight classes.

Pro – Guys Cutting Less Weight

This is the theory, at least. A guy like Kevin Lee, who admitted to being 185-pounds after the fight on Saturday, won’t try and cut 30 pounds to make 155. Instead, he’ll only cut 20 pounds.

Weight cutting has become a huge issue ever since USADA took over to clean up the sport. While they’ve caught more people using performance enhancers, they’ve also changed the way fighters have had to cut weight. Fighters are no longer able to get away with certain substances that helped them cut weight. On top of that, early weigh-ins and no IV after a weigh in have hindered fighters.

In 2017, we’ve seen multiple instances where a bad weight cut has led to a fight being postponed or canceled. Back at UFC 214, Renan Barao was denied a fight at 135 due to his previous weight issues. He ended up fighting, and losing, at 140-pounds.

The addition of more weight classes would hopefully lead to guys cutting a more realistic amount of weight prior to a fight.

Con – Guys Will Continue To Cut As Much As Possible

Again, the theory is that guys will cut less weight if there are more weight classes for them to compete out. In practice, that probably won’t happen. Instead, guys will continue to cut as much weight as possible as they hope to be as big as possible for the weight class.

A 165-pound division sounds great for guys who are at 185-pounds, think they’d be too small for 170-pounds, but can’t safely cut 30 pounds. But what about the guys who are at 190-pounds, still feel too small at 170 and definitely can’t cut to 155? They’re going to try and cut to 165 and I promise that it’s not going to end well for some of them.

Guys will always want to cut as much weight as possible in order to be the biggest in the weight class. Adding more weight classes just gives others more opportunities to cut more weight.

Pro – More Titles

Every UFC pay-per-view has a title fight nowadays. The last time a title wasn’t up for grabs on pay-per-view was UFC 202, which was headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz. The UFC has slapped an interim title on an event or created titles out of thin air just to have belts on pay-per-view. By having more weight classes, there will be more titles, and possibly less interim titles.

Con – More Titles

Or, it could create more interim titles. If the company is unable to secure a title fight for an event, they could fallback on an interim title, only now they’ll have more weight classes to pick from.

Even if it doesn’t mean more interim titles, it definitely means more titles. Dana White has long said that he doesn’t want the sport to become like boxing, where there is a weight class every 2-pounds and five titles attached to that weight class.

Pro – More Opportunities

If the UFC adds more weight classes, that opens up more opportunities for fighters. Guys can jump from weight class to weight class and super fights become a more realistic possibility. Once the 165-pound division gets some credibility, the possibility of the 165-pound champion against the 170-pound champion could lead to a big buyrate.

And if the UFC adds these weight classes, other organizations will add these weight classes. That deepens the fighter pool and potentially allows fighters to fight at their best, assuming they don’t try and cut too much weight.

Con – More Fights

There’s a UFC event next weekend. Do you know the co-main event? I know Donald Cerrone is taking on Darren Till, but I didn’t know the co-main event until I looked it up. In looking at the main card, I didn’t recognize half the fighters.

The UFC already has trouble getting people to tune in to these Fight Night events and creating new stars. By adding more weight classes, they run the risk of further watering down the product.

I guess if you enjoy watching guys you’ve never heard of fight on a Saturday afternoon in Egypt, more fights aren’t a bad thing.

I’m on Twitter @jeremylambert88

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UFC, Jeremy Lambert