(Awww…who could stay mad at that face? / Photo via joshpunkthomson)
This Saturday, lightweight veteran Josh Thomson leads off the UFC on FOX 12: Lawler vs. Brown broadcast with a fight against Bobby Green, and naturally, “The Punk” decided to talk a little trash in the media to build some heat. The problem is, his insults weren’t directed at Green, or anybody else in his weight class. Instead, Thomson used a Fox Sports interview as a platform to bury the UFC’s three heaviest divisions.
Basically, Thomson was arguing that it’s harder to come by a finish at 155 pounds or below (which is true), because the fighters are much more talented and well-rounded (which is debatable). And sure, maybe it could have come out better:
“You hit 185, 205, and heavyweight, those guys are always just good at like one thing, two things, but they’re not great all the way around. There’s ways to finish them. So if you’re a well-rounded athlete, you can finish those guys. You can find ways to finish those guys.
“With 55-pounders and below, good luck, man. Everybody’s good all around — they’re good wrestlers, they’re good jiu-jitsu guys, they’re good standup guys, they’re game to throw down and they’re always in shape. 170 is kind of like the limbo — like there’s some well-rounded guys in there…
“You start getting in the 185′s, 205, heavyweight, they start being one-dimensional, two-dimensional fighters. They’re not mixed martial artists. They’re not as good as the 55-pounders and below. They’re just not. To me that’s just a fact.
“So you want to tell me ‘don’t leave it in the judges’ hands’ but where am I supposed to take this fight where this guy isn’t good? He’s good at stopping submissions, he’s good at wrestling, he’s good as standup and he’s generally in great shape. Tell me how when we start talking 55 and below, these guy are phenomenal athletes and they’re almost impossible to finish. People knock us for it, but guess what? Our weight classes are so much harder than the guys that are above us.”
Thomson’s willingness to speak his mind can sometimes be refreshing. Other times, his lack of filter isn’t as well received. (Case in point: The time he decided to invoke incest and bestiality in a Facebook rant about gay marriage, then claimed his words were taken out of context when the backlash hit him.)
My problem with Thomson’s opinion about larger fighters is that there are just too many obvious exceptions to take the claim seriously. From the champions (Chris Weidman, Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez) to the top contenders (Fabricio Werdum, Daniel Cormier, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, among many others), the heavier divisions are loaded with athletes who can hurt you from any position and always show up in shape.
Thomson interprets the lower finishing rate in the lighter divisions as a sign that the talent pool is higher there, the fighters are more well-rounded. But you can look at the same evidence and come to the exact opposite conclusion — the heavier fighters are better because they’re actually finishing each other. Only one thing’s for certain: Josh Thomson is not here to make friends.