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Dropping a Weight Class to Save Your Career: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

The Bad

Brandon Vera

Vera was a fast-rising contender in the UFC heavyweight division until back-to-back losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum inspired him to give 205 a shot. But Vera’s eight-fight stretch at light-heavyweight has done nothing to raise his stock. Though the Truth has beaten up entry-level competition like Reese Andy and Mike Patt, he hasn’t been able to win any high-profile fight, and has collected losses to Keith Jardine, Randy Couture, and Jon Jones along the way. Thank God for steroid busts, or Vera wouldn’t even have a UFC contract right now.

Kenny Florian

Though he was never able to grab the golden ring, Kenny Florian became a perennial contender at 155, finishing eight out of his 12 opponents as a UFC lightweight. A decision loss to Gray Maynard in a title eliminator at UFC 118 finally sent Ken-Flo packing to featherweight — his fourth weight class in the UFC, after entering the promotion as a water-logged middleweight on TUF 1. Florian scored a decision win over Diego Nunes in his first fight at 145, but the cut was a nightmare. Though he remained in the division to finish what he started and challenge Jose Aldo for the belt, Florian’s title-curse struck again and he was out-scored four rounds to one by Aldo at UFC 136. Following the loss, Florian gave up on making featherweight for good.

Tyson Griffin

After three straight losses at lightweight, Tyson Griffin attempted to right the ship by moving to 145. It started out positively enough, with Griffin winning a majority decision in his featherweight debut against Manny Gamburyan last June. Then, he missed weight and got steamrolled by Bart Palaszewski at UFC 137. With four losses in his last five attempts, it’s not immediately clear where Griffin’s MMA future lies. See also: Joe Stevenson’s one-and-done stint at featherweight, Yoshihiro Akiyama’s failed welterweight experiment

The Ugly

James Irvin

Every time we talk about bad weight cuts, the Sandman’s name always comes up. Already a lean, mean 205′er, Irvin tried his hand at making 185 following an extended layoff due to a painkiller suspension and subsequent knee injuries. Once Irvin hit the scales at Vera vs. Jones, it was quickly apparent that starving and dehydrating himself was probably not going to be his path to a title shot. Irvin got dunced in short order by Alessio Sakara; a follow-up loss to Igor Pokrajac back at light-heavyweight earned Irvin his third-consecutive loss and his release by the UFC. Though James Irvin’s brief and hideous middleweight campaign should have served as a warning, he actually signed up for another middleweight bout last March at KSW 15, missed weight by 7 pounds and got arm-barred in 33 seconds.

Keith Jardine

In retrospect, the Dean of Mean should have taken a tune-up fight at 185 before facing Strikeforce’s nastiest middleweight. Jardine’s UFC career ended after four consecutive losses at light-heavyweight, which he followed with a 2-1-1 stint outside the Octagon, including a decision loss to Trevor Prangley, and an utter beating (or, “draw”) at the hands of Gegard Mousasi. Jardine vowed to relaunch his career at middleweight, and was gifted with an immediate Strikeforce title shot when Tim Kennedy suffered an injury. Well, maybe “gifted” is the wrong word, and “cursed” is a better one. Luke Rockhold wrecked Jardine within one round, and Jardine hasn’t been heard from since.

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Cagepotato Comments

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linzhanaj- March 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm
Roy Nelson by Flying Armbar- March 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm
Honorable mention to Marcus Davis man he was in bad shape
GistoftheFist- March 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm
I wish I could go UP in weight. My cursed aquarius frame is so scrawny. I weigh less now than I did in high school. :(
RSparrow- March 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm
Awwww tell us more!
RaginAsian- March 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm
Nick Diaz at 155 springs to mind. Mike Swick didn't seem to do his career any favors by dropping to 170 either.
Tursmo- March 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm
Oh man, at first I thought Jardine was hitting himself. It took me a while to realize the other glove was red.
HandsofGold- March 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm
Jardine looks all kinds of fucked up!
MediocreThreat- March 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm
I think Kenny Florian should drop down to fly weight and challenge for the unclaimed belt.
BryanF- March 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm
I'd like to see Florian drop to Flyweight, go back up to welterweight, middleweight, and then lightheavyweight and heavyweight. And then finally drop back down to the newly created straw-weight. I want to see KenFlo lose a title shot in every division possible. Not because I hate him, but because if anyone can do it, it's KenFlo.
The12ozCurls- March 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm
Holy Shit! I always forget how horrific James Irvin looked at that weigh in. Dude looked like Kate Moss and Christian Bale from "The Machinist" had a kid that was stricken with HIV. Not a good look and even worse in-ring performance. I remember Joe Rogan saying that he looked like an alien. LOL.
KeithHackneyWindmillPalmStrike- March 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm
I didn't know James Irvin survived the learn something new every day
The_Dead_Cow- March 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm
Nate Diaz at 170 wasn't very good also.
KarmaAteMyCat- March 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Durp Durp
bgoldstein- March 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm
I should do a separate list for guys who went up in weight.
The Good: Overeem, Jake Shields
The Bad: Nate Diaz
The Ugly: Anthony Johnson, and that middleweight who tried to box Kimbo on Saturday.
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- March 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm
and whoever is currently on the roster, "roy nelson"
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- March 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm
that needs to move up or down