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Catchweight Confusion: The Kimbo and Rich divisions

rich-franklinThere are currently five weight classes in the UFC. Rich Franklin is not one of them. Neither is Kimbo Slice. Although you’d never know it from the recent trend toward catchweight bouts to accommodate these fighters.

Franklin, who has yo-yoed between middleweight and light heavyweight, fought back-to-back bouts at 195 pounds, going 1-1 against Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, respectively. The justification for the catchweight was that it would help both Silva and Belfort make smooth transitions from light heavyweight down to middleweight, although neither has yet to make an appearance at their intended destination. It’s also had the unfortunate side effect of leaving Franklin in limbo, neither middleweight nor light heavy.

Now Kimbo Slice, around whom the entire heavyweight-centric tenth season of TUF was constructed and in whom the UFC has heavily invested, is being given similar special treatment. The backyard brawler-turned-MMA fighter is expected to make his Octagon debut at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale on December 5 not as a heavyweight or even as a light heavyweight, but as a 215-pound catchweight fighter.

The reason being given is that Slice isn’t able to make the cut to 205 pounds, the weight at which his opponent, Houston Alexander, usually fights. Slice weighed in at 230 pounds when he fought Roy Nelson on TUF, and I’m not sure he’ll even be able to cut 15 pounds. Let me rephrase that: I don’t know if Slice has the discipline needed to cut 15 pounds, that he has the mental fortitude required to curb his diet, to push away from the dinner table, to starve and dehydrate and sweat in those final days and hours before the weigh-in. For most fighters 15 pounds is a cakewalk, a few hours in a sauna wearing a sweatsuit. But Slice isn’t most fighters. He’s never had to cut weight before, so who can say how he will handle it?

Of course, this raises a far more significant question: Why isn’t Slice fighting a heavyweight bout?

Obviously there are criterion Slice’s first opponent must meet. He can’t be too skilled, which rules out almost the entire division, and he must be willing to stand and bang, because nobody wants to see Slice on his back ever again. They probably wouldn’t even consider tossing him Tim Hague, who was on the receiving end of Todd Duffee’s record-setting knockout at UFC 102, simply because of the 35-plus-pound size difference.

But the UFC needs Slice to fight again. He’s a personality, draw, a ratings grabber, no matter his skill level. And if last week’s relatively Sliceless TUF episode is any indication – it was the first in several weeks that didn’t show Slice talking excitedly about getting another chance to fight – he won’t fight again in the TUF house.

So instead, the UFC is rolling out the red carpet by allowing a catchweight bout that is meaningless except as a way to get Slice on the card and possibly in the win column (Slice vs. Alexander is a puncher’s chance kind of showdown that isn’t likely to last more than a round or two). While the UFC and Spike TV may say otherwise, Slice has certainly been getting special treatment, whether it’s by stipulating that his beard is off limits to TUF’s usual frathouse antics or by allowing members of his entourage to be present when he fought Nelson. And I have a hard time believing that any other fighter from TUF: Heavyweights would be afforded a similar opportunity to ease themselves into the Octagon with a fight at the weight of their choosing.

Of course, just as Franklin’s two catchweight bouts have fuelled an argument for the creation of a 195-pound division, this latest catchweight bout lends strength to the position that the UFC needs to implement a new weight class to break up the heavyweight division, which currently spans a whopping 59 pounds. It can be like pitting a lightweight against a light heavyweight. While the case against a new division usually hinges on the fact that there aren’t enough heavyweights in the UFC to warrant it, the current season of TUF is specifically intended to bolster the roster of 265ers. (I’m not saying the flabalanche of newcomers will strengthen the heavyweight division, only deepen it.)

UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said that he’s not interested in altering the current weight classes. If anything, he’d consider adding a division or two to the bottom end of the scale by bringing in featherweight (145 pounds) and  bantamweight (135 pounds).

So for now, we’re stuck with the unofficial Rich Franklin class and Kimbo Slice class.

24 COMMENTS
  • Beau Fury says:

    I think that there should be at least a weight class between 205 and heavyweight!!! There are some guys that are in the heavyweight division that cannot make the weight cut from 235 to 205… so they are forced to fight up in weight or forced to cut too much weight… I think a 215 or 220 class would be more than acceptable… I think it would lead to some interesting match-ups and could lead to 205’s moving up to fight some of the lighter heavyweights!!!

  • MacBatty says:

    Who cares if Kimbo got special treatment….If he wasn’t on the show were millions of people going to watch this dreadful season???

    Special people get special treatment….Is it fair that he has already main evented a couple of shows but now is relegated to the tough house so Dana can at least say he is a TUF fighter? Or how about the fact that he is already PRE MARKETED so Dana doesn’t have to do a dam thing to sell any fight he is in!

    You guys all cry about how the other fighters in the TUF house didnt get special treatment…Well the fact is they are NOBODY….including Roy……So why shouldnt Dana sweeten the pot to get Kimbo in the house?

  • paddiosf says:

    I feel the same way but Dana doesnt sound like he wants to add a Cruiser weight, I think to many fighters would try and drop-up and down between weight classes and dilute the weight classes…

  • Scott H. says:

    I started thinking about this after Sam’s article on fighters missing weight, and the more I think about it, the more I like it.

    265 stay’s the same, but you add a 225 class. Perfect for fighters who aren’t big enough to fight the giants (Lesner and Carwin) but have a tough time fitting in at 205. Brandon Vera & Randy Couture would be good examples.

    I’d leave 205 the same, but split 185 into two divisions, 190, and 180. One 190 would reduce the 20 pound drop from the current 205 to 185. 180 would be perfect for the large welter wieghts who have a tough time cutting to 170 (Rumble, Alves, Swick), who might be interested in moving up if some of the bigger 185’s go to 190 (Silva, Bisping, Henderson, Belfort).

    170 stays the same, and 155 moves up to 160, just to kepp a consistent 10 lbs. between the lower weight classes. I think the 10 lbs. classes would reduce the need for some of the drastic weight cutting going on.

  • Vogairian says:

    This is a very overly dramatic article. Catch-weight fights happen all of the time, this isn’t something to freak out over, especially when two had a very good reason for being made (Silva and Belfort’s transition to MW). In Kimbo’s case, who cares? It’s two fighters who will never come close to being in contention or even being gate keepers, it’s just a slug fest type of fight for the fans to enjoy.

    On a side note the out cry for a weight class between LHW and HW is amazing. No one cared about Brock’s size difference when he showed up, no one cared when Brock lost to Mir, now that he has some wins against credible guys everyone wants to cage him off in his own division that will have maybe at most 4-5 guys who are interested and the only two that I would consider contenders for that title would be Carwin and Brock.

  • Scott H. says:

    I think the bottom line is we all want to see good fights, and the catch weight bouts generally help with that, by helping to properly match up fighters.

    I like the catch weight fights, but the questions in my mind are:
    1) Are there good fighters out there who have a tough time fitting into the current weight classes (Yes, I think)
    2) Would adding a couple of classes (and titles) to the mix help the sport by aiding to better match up fighters in competative fights (again, I think yes).

  • brandnewpride36 says:

    not to be a stickler or anything, but featherweight is 145 and bantamweight is 135
    Good catch- Editor

    that aside, i agree that he’s getting special treatment. catch weight bouts can be interesting if it’s two champions against one another, and i can understand the whole easing someone into a weight class (wanderlei silva and vitor), but this fight is only a means of getting ratings and kinda bothers me…

  • fanoftna33 says:

    If anybody needs a catchweight class I think it is Kenny Florian, he has made it to a title fight twice and lost convincingly both times, but he also crushes everybody else. I think he is a very exciting fighter and I would like to see some fights at 160 with him, maybe a fight with Paulo Thiago, or a smallish WW like Yoshida. Kenny is a tall LW fighter so add some good Muscle and we could get an exciting new division.

  • Niv says:

    The article is bang on in this issue. This fight and the criteria for a Kimbo fight is to find the least skilled opponent possible to ensure a Kimbo win. Kimbo represents big money as he has this internet following that he’s built and Dana and Co. know what they have.

    Until proven wrong they’re going to find another un-skilled fighter after this fight, and if things go their way they’ll feed him to Brock for a massive ppv score. Tim Hague would be far too dangerous for Kimbo as he at least has shown he has a submission game, and we know Kimbo is helpless on the ground.

    I have nothing against Kimbo as a person, he seems like a decent guy, if you watch him closely he has one asset and that’s a giant bomb of a right hand. Unfortunately he has nothing else at all so his chances of learning much at this stage are zero.

    The UFC knows this and they have to cash in on him now.

    All I ask is next time someone rips another organization for propping up fighters they should think about this as a prime example, and there are other examples as well.

  • edub says:

    1. I think it is very unfair, and I thought he wouldnt get special treatment. But looking back I think we all should have realized he would have special stipulations going into the house. I just saw the beginning of TUF the other day, and when Roy said “I thought I was the special announcement” I about died. Roy is the guy who got smashed Arlovski (if even known) to casual fans. Not many people watched the IFL thats why theyre no longer around. I guess it could be the way they are editin the show but Roy’s arrogance has been the big surprise of the show to me. Its gonna be the same way with his “career” in the UFC. He is gonna get match ups that are favorable to his style. I got no problem with matchup. Although I favor technical battles over brawls(I was loving the Almeida vs Fitch matchup before it scrapped), slugfests are always fun to watch. I could watch Fyre vs. Takayama everyday.
    2. I think the weight divisions are fine. Does anyone realize how small the hw divsion would be if they added a 225 lb divsion. Who would fight in it? Carwin, Lesnar, Hague, Duffee. I mean if guys wo are big enough to walk around at 240 plus can make 205(Forrest griffin), then there is no need for 225. If you wanna do catch weight fights there fine, but the division isnt needed. Neither is 195.

  • Jstew3785 says:

    edub: 1. I think it is very unfair, and I thought he wouldnt get special treatment. But looking back I think we all should have realized he would have special stipulations going into the house. I just saw the beginning of TUF the other day, and when Roy said “I thought I was the special announcement” I about died. Roy is the guy who got smashed Arlovski (if even known) to casual fans. Not many people watched the IFL thats why theyre no longer around. I guess it could be the way they are editin the show but Roy’s arrogance has been the big surprise of the show to me. Its gonna be the same way with his “career” in the UFC. He is gonna get match ups that are favorable to his style. I got no problem with matchup. Although I favor technical battles over brawls(I was loving the Almeida vs Fitch matchup before it scrapped), slugfests are always fun to watch. I could watch Fyre vs. Takayama everyday.2. I think the weight divisions are fine. Does anyone realize how small the hw divsion would be if they added a 225 lb divsion. Who would fight in it? Carwin, Lesnar, Hague, Duffee. I mean if guys wo are big enough to walk around at 240 plus can make 205(Forrest griffin), then there is no need for 225. If you wanna do catch weight fights there fine, but the division isnt needed. Neither is 195.

    Yeah…. what he said. Spot on

  • xtreme_machine says:

    DANA you sir are a hypocrite

    you questioned Elite XC for the special treatment they gave Kimbo

    and now you are doing the same

    i know it is just business but it really hurts your credibility

    i am now 100% on Fedor and M1 Global’s side

  • I’d much rather see Bantamweights and Featherweights in the UFC than see a 195 lb or 235 lb division. Guys like St. Pierre and Thiago Alves cut a ton of weight to make 170. There’s no reason that the lighter Heavyweights couldn’t do the same.

  • BigDave says:

    Off topic but I was wondering….

    Did Kimbo actually name one of his sons Kevlar?

    If so he is an even bigger moron then I thought.

    On the catch weight issue, as far as it pertains to kimbo who cares its not a real fight just a last chance money grab of the bitch. As for real fighters I dont have a problem with a cruiser weight division If there are enough quality fighters to make it viable but not until such time. Having a “super fight” once in awhile is ok at a catch weight provided it is a fight that will or should be evenly matched but not a regular occurance.

  • RoadsideGraphix says:

    I’ve been saying forever that there needs to be a 206 – 230 division for guys like Cain, Kimbo, Couture, Vera, Forrest. and other guys that walk around at 220+

    231+ Super Heavy weight
    206 – 230 Heavy
    186 – 205 Light Heavy

  • Scott H. says:

    Just wanted to add one thing…

    Some of the comments seem to reflect that the UFC is doing this as a favour to Kimbo, but I think this is Dana’s ultimate revenge. This fight is a blessing for Houston Alexander, who has no ground game, but is dynamite on his feet. I think he destroy’s Kimbo. I don’t want to see Kimbo fight someone with a ground game, we know what would happen… but watching him get taken apart on his feet by a popular, but unskilled UFC fighter… I’m looking forward to it!

  • jding3 says:

    I think its unfortunate that Kimbo is getting special treatment. We all know Kimbo is a draw and brings in viewers. But I wish the UFC would stick to having the most talented fighters, Kimbo hasn’t really done anything to show he belongs in the UFC. I think the UFC has a solid enough roster to put on other good fights and using Kimbo as a draw is just being greedy.

    Also, We all know this season of TUF has been disappointing, I honestly think there are only maybe 2 or 3 fighters from the whole show capable of getting wins against actual UFC heavyweights.

    Finally, I have no problem with catchweight fights, but what division would Kimbo fight in after this one???

  • I don’t think any argument in favor of a 230 lb. division will convince it won’t dilute an already shallow HW talent pool.

  • Vogairian says:

    xtreme_machine: DANA you sir are a hypocriteyou questioned Elite XC for the special treatment they gave Kimbo and now you are doing the same
    i know it is just business but it really hurts your credibility i am now 100% on Fedor and M1 Global’s side

    Apples to oranges my friend. UFC has not claimed that Kimbo is the future of mma, Kimbo is not the face of their org, Kimbo did not fight on the biggest card in UFC history. Kimbo was of course going to get some special treatment in the TUF house. He’s as big of a house hold name as they’re ever going to get on TUF as a non coach (and in most cases even then), any agent in the world would make sure to get something out of it.

  • twyg says:

    I am of the belief that the weight classes are fine the way they are. It really sucks for Rich but to bad. If you are going to change them you make cruiserweight at 200 and bump LHW to 215. A 215 LHW takes in the small HW and the big LHW. This also keeps all the divisions 15 pounds apart from LW up ( from LW and below they are separated by ten). Also 215 would keep the real HW where they belong. Again though I like it the way it is.

  • GassedOut says:

    My thinking on weight classes is that we don’t need more of them. There are always going to be guys that don’t really fit well into a weight class. So what do we do? If we create more weight classes, it’s kind of a slippery slope, and we could end up like boxing. Just a thought, for what it’s worth.

  • krock says:

    i have no prob with catchweight. i fight is a fight. and this would be cool to watch.

  • lalo_g80 says:

    Why not just add 5 lbs. to each division? Middleweight to light heavy has a 20lb difference. All the UFC has to do is add one division.

    Heavyweight : 221+
    Cruiserweight: 220
    Light Heavyweight : 205
    Middleweight : 190
    Welterweight : 175
    Lightweight : 160
    Featherweight : 150
    Bantamweight : 140

    Now every higher weight division is only 15lbs apart. All lower weight divisions would be 10 punds apart. Now Kimbo can fight at Cruiserweight and get pummeled by Couture, Vera, Griffin etc. You get those guys to move up in a division and now Rich Franklin has a home at 205. I wouldnt raise cruiserweight higher because it would dillute some of the talent in the heavyweight division.

  • edub says:

    GassedOut: My thinking on weight classes is that we don’t need more of them. There are always going to be guys that don’t really fit well into a weight class. So what do we do? If we create more weight classes, it’s kind of a slippery slope, and we could end up like boxing. Just a thought, for what it’s worth.

    Thatd be the biggest problem. The biggest fight thats gonna happen this year isnt even being fouhgt at a legitimate championship weight class. Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto is being contested for the welterweight(147) champioship belt, but it is being fought at 145(because for all the hoopla about manny moving up in weight he still needs his opponents to suck themselves as dry as possible.) How funny would it be if Jose Aldo wanted to move up in weight to challenge BJ Penn for the lw title but he made a stipulation in the contract that said the fight has to be contested at 151lbs.

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