Another great weekend of fights and now that they’re over, we get the inevitable melee of folks clamoring for fighters to retire. Although it’s always fun to say such and such a fighter is done and not the same as they used to be, I thought I’d take a different approach in determining a fighters career trajectory. Here’s my list of fighters that might do better with a simple weight change to either improve their position or break out of the rut they find themselves in.
I give you MCM’s top 5 UFC fighters that are in need of a divisional change.
At #5 Phil Davis.
I would love to see Mr. Wonderful make the drop to 185 lbs. At 11-1 and just cracking the top 10, you may ask why would anyone want to drop to a lower weight. First off, I don’t think Davis is going to beat Machida in his next bout. That may, again, knock him back down to fighting UFC new comers as his last loss did. Phil’s strengths, wrestling and submissions, are also much more in need at MW than LHW. Davis was built up as one of the new breeds of LHW and a contender to Jon Jones, but after getting manhandled by Rashad at his own game it became glaringly apparent that Davis was no Jones. At MW, Davis could easily ascend the ranks to contender as one of his previous opponents, Tim Boetsch did. Mr. Wonderful at least possesses the skills to be competitive with currant champ Anderson Silva as opposed to being completely out classed by current LHW kingpin Jones.
#4 Georges St. Pierre
I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy!?”, but hear me out. GSP has long been considered one of the top 2 Pound for Pound fighters on the planet, and with 8 title defenses it’s easy to see why. My issue is that at 32 years old, GSP has essentially cleaned out the division. Sure there’s always the new guy coming up that looks hot and has their fan boys saying they’re the one to de-throne the champ, but once they step in the cage with St. Pierre, they wind up looking like middling amateurs instead of the world beaters they are. Rush is so good and shuts so many fighters down with such ease that it’s not even entertaining anymore. There is nothing left for him at WW. He will go down as the greatest Welterweight that ever fought in MMA and hold that title for a long time. That’s why I want to see him test himself in the last few years he has in the sport and step up to MW. I know Silva has been clamoring for a “super fight” and although I wouldn’t be opposed to it, I think there are several other fights at MW that I’d like to see St. Pierre in as well. I’d like to see how Rush handles Bisping. A giant (relatively speaking) fighter with excellent take down defense arguably superior striking. Or how well he would handle former HW and fellow “Rush” fighter Vitor Belfort. GSP falls into the “rut” category and I’d like to see him test himself in the last years of his career.
#3 Urijah Faber
Faber is the clear cut #3 in the Bantamweight division. Problem is, the only guys he loses to are the ones holding the belts. Now with a win in Aug. he will have earned another shot at interim champ Renan Barao, supposing he loses the rematch, where does he go from there? He can stay at 135 and continually beat everyone else while never getting a shot at divisional gold again, or he can return to the division he once ruled and take another shot at Featherweight. Only two men ever beat Faber when he ruled at FW. Mike Brown and Jose Aldo. Brown is a relatively former shell of him self and Aldo is, by his own admission, on his way up to Lightweight. With former borderline top 10 fighters Clay Guida and Dennis Siver making their way into title contention in the still thin FW division, how hard would it be for the former undisputed best FW in the world to come back and stake his claim at the top?
2: Mike Pierce
If you don’t know Mike Pierce shame on you. Mike Pierce has slowly built himself a respectable 8-3 run in the UFC. His losses have come by split decision to top 5er Josh Koscheck, top 10er and current #2 Johny Hendricks and a 29-28 UD loss to (at the time) #2 ranked Jon Fitch. Pierce might very well be the toughest out in the WW division. Unfortunately, at a questionable 5’8″ tall and with a string of decisions, he’s never in talks for anything above middle of the road fighters. Piece is a grinder in the stile of Randy Couture, but he does possess one punch KO power (just ask Aaron Simpson). I’d love to see him make the drop to LW and take on some fighters his own size. I imaging him as an exciting version of Gray Maynard.
And obviously at #1 Roy “Big Country” Nelson
If you didn’t see this one coming, I don’t know what to tell you. Pictured on the left is “Skinny” Roy Nelson. What we saw this last weekend at 161 was not. Now if any of you know me, you know I love me some Big Country. He’s one of the guys that got me into MMA and I never have and never will root against him. But even as a die hard Nelson fan, I’m getting a little tired of the “fat guy” schtick. We hear from Joe Rogan during every fight how Roy is this amazing, high level BJJ black belt but unless you’re familiar with his early work like this, (yes that’s HW Roy Nelson grappling current LW Diego Sanchez) you’d have no idea. The fact is, Roy Nelson has always had the build of a MW fighter, but at 37 years old, I doubt he’s going to be able to make the cut to 185 at this point. If Roy took his training and diet seriously and got himself a real camp and not his basement, he could potentially make Light Heavyweight. Do I think he would contend for the title? Most likely not. But for however long he continues to fight, his knockout power, the ability to actually use his grappling and his granite chin would make him a serious threat to anyone he faced.
So there you have it, my top 5 fighters that need to change divisions. Let me know where I screwed up and who you’d put on your lists in the comment section below.
Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier, and Dan Henderson
Front-Page Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports