(“…and I’m just saying, in this new 163-pound division, maybe motherf*ckers shouldn’t be allowed to kick you in your damn neck so much.” / Photo via Esther Lin @ MMAFighting)
Even before he lost his second consecutive lightweight fight to Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 7, Nate Diaz was eyeing a return to welterweight — a division he’d already bounced out of in 2011, following back-to-back losses to Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald. So what’s a guy supposed to do if he’s not powerful enough to deal with the beasts at 170, and cutting to 155 is no longer worth the misery? Call it sour grapes if you will, but Nate floated the following suggestion on twitter yesterday:
@ufc more weight classes ASAP?? 163,178,193 More super fights more champion vs champion, closer to weight better fights more potential …
Obviously, that 163-pound division would be tailor-made for the younger Diaz brother, so it makes sense that he’d support it. But self-interest aside, there’s some logic to the idea. While UFC president Dana White has been looking to smaller and smaller fighters as the future of the promotion — 115-pound dudes? seriously? — the UFC already has a deep roster of talented, popular contenders who have suffered from being “in between” weight classes, either ruining their bodies through massive weight cuts to stay competitive, or giving up tremendous size disadvantages to compete at a more “natural” division.
The UFC turns 20 years old this year, and despite all the evolution that the sport has seen along the way, we’re still at the point where there are 15- and 20-pound gaps between the lightweight and light-heavyweight classes. There’s something primitive about that, and Diaz’s tweet highlights it. Instead of creating more divisions that are ten pounds lower than the last one, intermediate weight-classes might be the best next step as the sport progresses. It would create more champions — always a good thing in terms of promotional value — and many of those champions would already be established stars with some name recognition.
Maybe Lyoto Machida is a future champ at 193? Maybe Hector Lombard could make something of himself at 178? And maybe Nate Diaz could make a run at the 163-pound title? Isn’t that a better idea than letting good fighters fade into irrelevance, and trying to sell your audience on brand-new strawweight talent that they never asked for?