Following in the footsteps of past Ultimate Fighter finalists like Rashad Evans, Joe Stevenson, and Diego Sanchez, Mac Danzig plans to drop down in weight class after Saturday’s TUF finale — no matter what the outcome of his fight against Tommy Speer. As he says in a profile on UFC.com:
“I decided that before I even went on the show. I really have no business fighting the top five guys at 170, or even the top ten when it comes down to it. It’s not that I can’t beat them, but if you put me in with Matt Hughes or Georges St-Pierre ten times, I’m gonna win a number of those times, but realistically, with all skills being the same, those guys are extremely skilled and much bigger than me. I walk around at 170, those guys walk around at 190, so it’s not a good idea for me. I really want to make a run for a title, and 155 is my weight class. I feel that within a couple of years I can be a world champion at 155.”
Danzig has shown tremendous balls in moving up from from his natural weight to compete on The Ultimate Fighter — and for saying that he could beat Matt Hughes on a good day — and dropping down to lightweight is clearly the right move for his career. But God damn, the UFC really needs to put the brakes on this tradition of finalists dropping down in weight as soon as the show ends. The second season of TUF was partly intended to inject fresh blood into the heavyweight division; of the two finalists, one (Rashad Evans) immediately dropped down to light-heavyweight and the other (Brad Imes) doesn’t even compete in the UFC anymore. The next season of the show will feature middleweights in an attempt to get some new names in the hat for the UFC’s second-weakest division, but the finalists could easily drop down to 170 pounds afterwards, adding to the welterweight division’s gridlock. Many suggestions have been offered to aid The Ultimate Fighter‘s sinking ratings — would it hurt to have the competitors sign an agreement stating that the weight class they competed at on the show is the one they’ll stay at for the length of their initial UFC contract? At this point, I feel that anything that would make the seasons’ results matter more in the long run could help maintain the interest of fans, who are jumping the TUF ship in droves due to its predictability.