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Are we seeing the rise of lighter heavyweights?

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Bigger isnt always better, and this has never been more true in the UFC’s heavyweight division than right now, with the smaller and more athletic heavyweights shunning the 265lb weight limit and breaking forward as serious contenders and champions, it is becoming more and more obvious that the future of heavyweight is slimming down.

When you think of 206+lb fighters, speed isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but this is one of the most important advantages we now see for not hitting the 265lb weight limit. The simple science is if you’re lighter you will be faster, and not only on your feet, but your strikes will come faster, so will your takedowns and so will your ground transitions. Having all these improved just from eating veg instead of burgers can drastically change any match-up inside the cage. Power is important, and none more so then with the heavyweights, but it doesn’t matter how strong your strikes are if your opponent is too fast to even hit. This was never more evident that when Roy Nelson (260lbs) took on Stipe Miocic (243lbs). Nelson came in with a huge power advantage and a three fight KO win streak. Miocic used technical boxing skill, footwork and angles to pick apart Nelson for three rounds and take the lopsided unanimous decision. Miocic showed the Mayweather art of ‘hit and not be hit’ in this fight completely nullifying Nelson’s power.

Having speed is one thing, but having the energy to keep up the higher pace is a completely different animal, and this cardio, that has famously been lacking in the heavyweight division, is something that is only improving with the lighter heavyweight fighters. With so many pounds being thrown around in a heavyweight contest, it’s easy to see why many of the fighters gas out before the final bell, but one man in particular has made his entire career out of capitalizing on others lack of cardio and that man is Cain Velasquez (240lbs).  When the heavyweight champion steps into the cage he simply outworks every man he has ever faced with strong strikes and dominating wrestling. In a division where cardio is scarce amongst the heaviest in the weight class, being able to force your opponent to work knowing you can work harder and for longer can turn even the most skilled and powerful fighter into an exhausted heap on the floor and prime for being finished. This was never better shown then when Velasquez took on Brock Lesnar (264lbs) Cain was able to fend off the aggressive Lesnar early on and pour it on when Brock was gassed late in the first round and get the win.

Being able to fight longer than your opponent is a major aspect of MMA, but having the skills and technique to win the contest is an entirely different animal, but again one that the lighter heavyweight competitors seem to excel at. Being the smaller man in the cage sometimes means you will pack less power, and therefore have to rely on your technique rather than sheer KO strength. An example of this happened at UFC on Fox 11when Fabricio Werdum (232lbs) took on knockout artist Travis Browne (245lbs). Werdum used exceptional Muay Thai technique to outwork Browne throughout the contest and get the decision win. being the lighter fighter means having better cardio and speed giving you not only the physical ability but also the confidence to  throw a wider variety of strikes with greater chance of success and minimalized energy loss, for example Junior Dos Santos (239lbs)  knocked out Mark Hunt (264lbs) with a spinning heel kick.

The big downside always brought up when fighters lose weight is power. Force = mass x acceleration, so with less weight your strikes will arguably make less impact. The bigger heavyweights from Hunt and Nelson to Lesnar and Overeem show how size and power are a great pair, but the lighter heavyweights are not lacking in KO power whatsoever. Smaller heavyweights such as Dos Santos, Miocic, Arlovski and Velasquez, with a combined 48 KO’s between them show that being lighter and more athletic does not have to impact your jaw-shattering strength. Powerful takedowns, guard passes and clinch games are also present in sub 260lb fighters such as Werdum, Mir and Struve.

Although there is much evidence of heavyweight Goliaths reigning the division from the likes of Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar and Tim Sylvia all hitting the 265 limit, the future for UFC heavyweights seems to be getting smaller with the likes of Velasquez, Dos Santos and Werdum ruling the bracket in recent years proving that technique and fitness are starting to take over might and size. This could be due to the natural progression of the sport or some other factor we are yet to see, but the fact is that these smaller heavyweights are filling a hole in the weight class that has been there since the early days of the UFC, and I for one cannot wait to see where the careers of some of these guys end up.

 

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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