Heavyweights that could or should have gone down to Light Heavyweight

(Photo by MMAWeekly.com)

The heavyweight division has a wide variety of fighters. Despite the division being criticized for years for their lack of depth in quality fighters, the division has never looked better. The UFC has been helped by organizations such as Pride and Strikeforce in making the heavyweight division more exciting. The weight restriction has also helped the division in  having a very deep class of fighters in different sizes.

With the weight restriction, the fighters can weigh from 206 to 265 pounds. That is a huge difference in weight, which has given some fighters the edge in major fights. You look at Brock Lesnar, who was a collegian champion but his one major advantage was his massive size. He was able to get on top of guys like Randy Couture and Frank Mir by using his power to become the heavyweight champion.

While some fighters try to weigh as much as 260 pounds, some fighters can only weigh up to 235 or 240 pounds. Despite the amount of weight, different heavyweights have considered in slimming down to 205 pounds. We’ve seen even the heavier fighters like Mir, Antonio Silva, and Roy Nelson consider dropping to 205 pounds in their respective careers.  It’s a massive weight cut that takes extreme dieting to actually make it. They aren’t like Daniel Cormier, who is 235 pounds and only needs to cut 30 pounds to make light heavyweight.

It’s always intriguing to see what happens when someone drops down a weight class. We saw in the past year with Frankie Edgar, Court McGee, and Demian Maia dropping down a division. You rarely see heavyweights actually make the drop to light heavyweight because of the actual work it takes to succeed in it. Phil De Fries was planning on doing it before being cut a few months ago.

Some heavyweights have considered it, but none have actually done it yet. Here are the heavyweights that have been rumored or considered potentially dropping to the light heavyweight division. It’s a bigger list than you would imagine.

Daniel Cormier

This was an obvious choice. Cormier has been saying for months that he is planning on cutting to 205 pounds, after he gets a few fights in the heavyweight division. He has defeated Frank Mir and now plans on potentially facing Roy Nelson, before leaving the division.

Despite weighing less than most heavyweights, Cormier is extremely powerful with his wrestling and his improved boxing. He can be a champion in the heavyweight division, but the respect for his friend Cain Velasquez outweighs that desire. I’m confident he can slim down to 205, especially if he gets help from diet expert Mike Dolce. If he can lose some of his stomach fat, you can see an even quicker and more aggressive fighter.

Most MMA fans want to see him face Jon Jones based on their trash talk and Jones needing an actual challenge. Cormier may not be as athletically gifted as Jones, but he can be the first fighter that can impose his will on Jones with his wrestling. It would be a huge fight that would give Jones the ultimate test to his title reign. Other than Lyoto Machida, nobody has really given Jones problems.

Should he drop to light heavyweight?

He doesn’t have to, but there is nothing wrong with the move. Cormier is going to be a top three fighter regardless of what division he’s in. Unlike any current light heavyweight, he will pose a major threat to Jon Jones. It would be amazing to see him face Velasquez to see who would win after years of training together. Regardless of who he fights, Cormier is becoming more and more popular. Every fight he’s involved in will be a big fight.

Roy Nelson

We’ve heard it for years from Dana White, Joe Rogan, Frank Mir, and others on Roy Nelson being better suited to fight at light heavyweight. Nelson possesses one punch knockout power, along with the best chin in MMA and being solid on the ground. It’s a foregone conclusion how much better Nelson would be at light heavyweight based on his strengths and flaws.

He simply doesn’t have the height, cardio or strength to beat the best heavyweights. His fights against Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir were testaments on how bad Nelson was outclassed. Mir was taking him down at will, while Nelson was left gasping for air. He has gotten into better shape recently, but nothing has really changed with his physique or style.

It’s a shame that he hasn’t seriously made the commitment, despite joking about possibly making the drop to 205 pounds through a Facebook status. At 36 years old, I highly doubt that he would commit to doing it. He’s on his best run as a heavyweight and has to be two wins away from a title shot. He’s got a huge fan base and seems to be always happy about his physical appearance.

Should he drop to light heavyweight?

He won’t do it now, but he should have done it a few years ago. If he were to lose the belly and make serious changes to his workout regime, he would have potentially become champion at light heavyweight. Could you imagine a fight against Dan Henderson in the battle of strongest chins ever? Nelson would have knocked out or overpowered so many light heavyweights from Lyoto Machida to Mauricio Rua. It’ll always be a phrase of “what if” when looking back on his career.

Frank Mir

This may come as a surprise, but there was a time when Mir considered going down to light heavyweight. He started to look bigger and stronger, after his loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100. He committed himself to strength training with Mark Philippi, who is one of the best strength trainers in the world. After a devastating loss to Shane Carwin at UFC 111, he started looking into changing weight classes.

“Right now I have a couple months off, so I’ve actually been toying with the idea of maybe going down a weight class. Since I don’t have a fight for a couple months, I’ve just been watching what I eat and see how my body without trying to put size on; what my natural weight will fall now at now since I have lifted a lot lately to add size. I’m kind of curious where I think I would fall at. Because some of the guys I train with that are light heavyweight, bone structures are the same. Sometimes I stand next to Forrest and I think I’m in the wrong weight class.”

Mir is more of a technical fighter rather than constantly pressuring opponents and using strength for takedowns. He did make significant improvements in his physique, but some heavyweights were simply too strong like Lesnar and Carwin. He considered making the drop, but it was too tough for him to do it.

He stayed at heavyweight and continued to have success by winning his next three fights, including the submission of the century against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. It was an incredible submission that involved him using his strength to gain leverage in using the kimura to submit him. With his move going to Greg Jackson’s camp, the questions of Mir staying in shape have been put to sleep.

Should he had dropped to light heavyweight?

Obviously he wouldn’t do it now, but his stay at heavyweight was a good move. If you watch his second fight with Lesnar, he looked really slim at 245 pounds. After that fight, it made me wonder if he would continue to slim down. Once he went up to 260 pounds for the fight against Cheick Kongo, there was no chance of him making the drop even when the rumors came out about it. He’ll always struggle against wrestlers, but it’s clear that he can fight with the best fighters in the world and will be a Hall Of Famer when he retires.

Antonio Silva

Another heavyweight that weighs in at around 260 pounds that faces a long road ahead of him, if he actually wants to make the move to light heavyweight. When I first read the story, it caught me completely off guard. This was what Antonio Silva had to say after Thiago Silva’s win over Rafael Cavalcante.

“I used to visit his house and he did mine, I was something of a brother to him and he simply stabbed me in the back and cheated me. He said I’m upset because he left ATT, but he knows it’s not because of that why I’m mad. I thought he was a coward. Many fighters perform at different weight classes, for example Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson.

I personally will attend the doctors to see if I am able to lose weight without spoiling my health. If can do it, I will drop weight to make this fight for sure. All I want to do is just fight him because words won’t make him change. He’s mentally sick, we’re completely different people. I am a family guy. I respect my father, mother, wife, I treat my friends well, without pulling their legs, and I don’t take drugs.” 

How can you not respect that? Antonio Silva is somewhat of an enigma based on people not knowing his personality. He’s very private with his personal life and rarely voices his opinions besides his hatred for Alistair Overeem. A fight between both of them would be a reward to the fans. Both fighters love to stand-up and strike. With Antonio Silva’s comments, it’s safe to say this fight won’t be ending in a decision if the fight were to happen.

Should he drop to light heavyweight?

I’m not going to give my opinion here for the simple fact that it’s highly unlikely this fight happens at 205 pounds. He would have to cut 50 pounds, which could be dangerous if he works out at a heavy rate. If they can meet at 225 pounds, then that should be good enough to meet at a catch weight. Silva may lanky, but he’s still one of the biggest heavyweights in the division. I’m going to be tracking his progress because this could be one of the best fights of the year if it were to happen.


Pat Barry

Barry has always been a fan favorite, but some of his fans have mentioned to him about dropping to light heavyweight. He has taken offense to that and prides himself on being a heavyweight. After his brutal knockout of Shane Del Rosario, he looked angry and kept repeating “too small” to the camera.

The issue with Barry is that he’s 5’11 and struggles on the ground. He’s improved over the years and has worked hard in trying to submit his opponents. You have to respect his work ethic and his dedication to being a heavyweight. It’s just hard to see him ever challenging for the title, despite his knockout power and excellent takedown defense.

He is very undersized for a heavyweight and doesn’t have the wrestling or ground game to make up for it. If he were at light heavyweight, he would have more success and would put together an actual two fight-winning streak. He has never been in a boring fight and is enjoyable to watch,  but it makes me wonder what he can do if he made the drop.

Should he drop to light heavyweight?

There isn’t a heavyweight that should drop to light heavyweight more than Barry. It’s sad to see a striker of his caliber not be in the top ten of a respective division. He’s such an exciting fighter that I can only imagine how much better he would be off at light heavyweight. It’ll probably never happen, which is very unfortunate because he can really become a force to be reckon with in that division.

The heavyweight division is always changing and we’ve seen how some fighters simply aren’t having the success they should have because of limitations. Other than Cormier, I expect none of the fighters that I mentioned will compete at light heavyweight. If Antonio Silva managed to make that dramatic weight cut, he deserves all the praise in the world and that fight with Thiago Silva should be the main event on a Fuel or FX card in Brazil. I have my doubts, but everyone should be hoping that fight happens.

[hr]You can follow me on twitter at @Allen_Strk or e-mail me at [email protected]. Also, you can follow @MMASucka for all the latest news and updates about MMA.

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