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Sometimes the Grass is Greener

Sometimes the Grass is Greener

Another great weekend of fights and now that they’re over, we get the inevitable melee of folks clamoring for fighters to retire.  Although it’s always fun to say such and such a fighter is done and not the same as they used to be, I thought I’d take a different approach in determining a fighters career trajectory.  Here’s my list of fighters that might do better with a simple weight change to either improve their position or break out of the rut they find themselves in.

I give you MCM’s top 5 UFC fighters that are in need of a divisional change.


At #5 Phil Davis.

Phil Davis - MMAWEEKLY

I would love to see Mr. Wonderful make the drop to 185 lbs.  At 11-1 and just cracking the top 10, you may ask why would anyone want to drop to a lower weight.  First off, I don’t think Davis is going to beat Machida in his next bout.  That may, again, knock him back down to fighting UFC new comers as his last loss did.  Phil’s strengths, wrestling and submissions, are also much more in need at MW than LHW.  Davis was built up as one of the new breeds of LHW  and a contender to Jon Jones, but after getting manhandled by Rashad at his own game it became glaringly apparent that Davis was no Jones.  At MW, Davis could easily ascend the ranks to contender as one of his previous opponents, Tim Boetsch did.  Mr. Wonderful at least possesses the skills to be competitive with currant champ Anderson Silva as opposed to being completely out classed by current LHW kingpin Jones.


#4 Georges St. Pierre

MMA: UFC 158-St. Pierre vs Diaz Weigh-In

I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy!?”, but hear me out.  GSP has long been considered one of the top 2 Pound for Pound fighters on the planet, and with 8 title defenses it’s easy to see why.  My issue is that at 32 years old, GSP has essentially cleaned out the division.  Sure there’s always the new guy coming up that looks hot and has their fan boys saying they’re the one to de-throne the champ, but once they step in the cage with St. Pierre, they wind up looking like middling amateurs instead of the world beaters they are.  Rush is so good and shuts so many fighters down with such ease that it’s not even entertaining anymore.  There is nothing left for him at WW.  He will go down as the greatest Welterweight that ever fought in MMA and hold that title for a long time.  That’s why I want to see him test himself in the last few years he has in the sport and step up to MW.  I know Silva has been clamoring for a “super fight” and although I wouldn’t be opposed to it, I think there are several other fights at MW that I’d like to see St. Pierre in as well.  I’d like to see how Rush handles Bisping.  A giant (relatively speaking) fighter with excellent take down defense arguably superior striking.  Or how well he would handle former HW and fellow “Rush” fighter Vitor Belfort.  GSP falls into the “rut” category and I’d like to see him test himself in the last years of his career.


#3 Urijah Faber

MMA: UFC TUF 17 Finale-Faber vs Jorgensen

Faber is the clear cut #3 in the Bantamweight division.  Problem is, the only guys he loses to are the ones holding the belts.  Now with a win in Aug. he will have earned another shot at interim champ Renan Barao, supposing he loses the rematch, where does he go from there?  He can stay at 135 and continually beat everyone else while never getting a shot at divisional gold again, or he can return to the division he once ruled and take another shot at Featherweight.  Only two men ever beat Faber when he ruled at FW.  Mike Brown and Jose Aldo.  Brown is a relatively former shell of him self and Aldo is, by his own admission, on his way up to Lightweight.  With former borderline top 10 fighters Clay Guida and Dennis Siver making their way into title contention in the still thin FW division, how hard would it be for the former undisputed best FW in the world to come back and stake his claim at the top?


2: Mike Pierce

Mike Pierce -MMAWEEKLY

If you don’t know Mike Pierce shame on you.  Mike Pierce has slowly built himself a respectable 8-3 run in the UFC.  His losses have come by split decision to top 5er Josh Koscheck, top 10er and current #2 Johny Hendricks and a 29-28 UD loss to (at the time) #2 ranked Jon Fitch.  Pierce might very well be the toughest out in the WW division.  Unfortunately, at a questionable 5’8″ tall and with a string of decisions, he’s never in talks for anything above middle of the road fighters.  Piece is a grinder in the stile of Randy Couture, but he does possess one punch KO power (just ask Aaron Simpson).  I’d love to see him make the drop to LW and take on some fighters his own size.  I imaging him as an exciting version of Gray Maynard.


And obviously at #1 Roy “Big Country” Nelson

MMA: UFC 146-Nelson vs Herman

If you didn’t see this one coming, I don’t know what to tell you.  Pictured on the left is “Skinny” Roy Nelson.  What we saw this last weekend at 161 was not. Now if any of you know me, you know I love me some Big Country.  He’s one of the guys that got me into MMA and I never have and never will root against him.  But even as a die hard Nelson fan, I’m getting a little tired of the “fat guy” schtick.  We hear from Joe Rogan during every fight how Roy is this amazing, high level BJJ black belt but unless you’re familiar with his early work like this, (yes that’s HW Roy Nelson grappling current LW Diego Sanchez) you’d have no idea.  The fact is, Roy Nelson has always had the build of a MW fighter, but at 37 years old, I doubt he’s going to be able to make the cut to 185 at this point.  If Roy took his training and diet seriously and got himself a real camp and not his basement, he could potentially make Light Heavyweight.  Do I think he would contend for the title?  Most likely not.  But for however long he continues to fight, his knockout power, the ability to actually use his grappling and his granite chin would make him a serious threat to anyone he faced.


So there you have it, my top 5 fighters that need to change divisions.  Let me know where I screwed up and who you’d put on your lists in the comment section below.


Honorable mentions:

Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier, and Dan Henderson

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Interesting article topic, and it’s nice to have more opinion-driven content on the site. But of course I have to quibble with MCM’s takes or it wouldn’t be fun.

    Davis dropping to 185 doesn’t seem very realistic. He walks around at ~225 and looks like this when he cuts to 205. Where’s the extra 20 pounds gonna go? In his collegiate wrestling days he cut to 197… I doubt he’s weighed as little as 185 since he was a high schooler.

    Also, a single loss to Rashad hardly shuts the door on Phil competing at the top of the LHW division. Losing a fight on the way up is part of the MMA learning curve, such as GSP losing to Hughes the first time around as part of his ascent to the top. A more apt comparison would be Johny Hendricks dropping a fight to Rick Story on his way up, as these collegiate wrestlers typically arrive on the MMA scene with very raw all-around skills, and improve with experience while leveraging their wrestling base and–especially for a guy like Davis–freakish athletic ability.

    With Roy we’ve been down this path plenty of times. I’ve never felt he had the the type of discipline it would require to alter his entire lifestyle to be able to effectively compete at 205, and this past weekend really cemented it for me. On the verge of free agency, with the opportunity to sign a life-changing contract within his grasp, Roy was a sloppy mess. At 37 years old, the Big Country ship has sailed.

    For GSP I could go either way but I’d prefer that he continue to defend his WW belt as long as there are interesting matchups/legitimate challengers. Hendricks certainly qualifies as that, and after him I think Ellenberger (with a win over Rory) or Maia (with a win over Kos) would earn a title shot and pose a legitimate threat to GSP. But first he’s obviously gotta get by Hendricks, which won’t happen till the end of the year, so for GSP a change in division wouldn’t be until further into 2014… in other words, a year down the road.

    I like your honorable mentions the best…

    Anderson Silva is far & away the best candidate to move to a different division. He’s already dabbled in the LHW division, and after Weidman there will be nothing left at MW. I think a Mousasi fight at MW could be good, but that’s too far off. And GSP isn’t fighting until the end of the year, so even if all the pieces came together it would be towards the middle of 2014 before a Silva-GSP fight could happen. Enough waiting around already… Silva is 38 years old and in the past 3 years has defended his belt against 3 opponents — Chael (x2), Belfort and Okami. The window is closing and who knows when it might slam shut.

    For Cormier, I haven’t been as sold on him dropping down in weight, given his success at HW, the usual lack of HW contenders, and his prior health issues associated with cutting weight. But he seems to be taking a smart approach to gradually shed the pounds, and if Cain beats JDS that leaves Cormier stuck in neutral since he’s stated he won’t fight his friend & training partner in Cain. If JDS wins, stick around at HW and fight for the belt. If Cain wins, go ahead and make the drop.

    I’ll add Mousasi. Not a very creative addition to the list, as this has been talked about quite a bit lately, but I hope Mousasi & the UFC make it official and get him in the MW mix as soon as possible.

  • MCM says:

    Isn’t that interesting. You think GSP has a legit challengers where as Silva doesn’t and I think GSP has faced all the stylistic challenges left for him and Silva still has several very strong opponents that can exploit his weakness.

    I don’t know if Davis (how was your image any different than mine?) could make 185, but I think it’s worth exploring. I think he’ll be a perennial top 10er at LHW but will never quite be able to crack into that top 5 and get a title shot. At the thinner (stylistically speaking) MW division, I could actually see him wearing gold.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    MCM Davis does not belong on this list, I’m disappointed you’ve been watching mma for this long and cant figure out that Davis walks around at over 220. You’re asking the guy to cut off an arm or leg, didn’t you see how much bigger he was than boetch when they fought? I would’ve thought that was obvious. Also Gsp would get tooled by bisping or vitor or okami or any other top mw. If Gsp was destroying his opponents and getting finishes then I’d be inclined to agree but if he couldn’t finish Dan hardy and finish off a one eyed stumbling Kos then I have a hard time believing he would beat any top MWs.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    It’s a speculation, I’m actually on MCM’s side when it comes to Davis, could he make the cut down? Probably not, do I think he’d do better if it was at all possible? Yes.

  • MCM says:

    Vitor Belfot, Anderson Silva, Brian Stann, Chael Sonnen, and Rumble Johnson all walk around at 220lbs. Gray Maynard and Joe Daddy walk around at 200+ and cut to LW.
    Am I saying Davis COULD cut to MW? No, I’m not a doctor nor do I know Davis’s physiology. I’m saying, for his career, he SHOULD cut to MW. And that’s only presuming he does it in a healthy manner.

    I also don’t know if GSP would get “tooled” at MW. But he’s got nothing left to prove at WW and it would at least be a challenge for him.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    If he gets by Weidman, what’s left for Anderson Silva at MW?

    A rematch with Vitor?

    Jacare? (who lost to Rockhold not all that long ago and has never beaten a top-10er)

    Rockhold? (who just got KO’d by Vitor)

    What else is there?

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I agree that MW could use Phil Davis a lot but that would be a huge cut for the guy.
    GSP I love to watch him fight no matter the weight, but agree that he has done all that needs to be done at WW but also deserves enough respect to be left to make a decision on his own and not let the UFC pressure him into it.
    I have been wishing for a Faber vs Edgar fight for 5 years now so if he moves back up I am happy.
    Pierce would be a beast at LW, hope to see it but like you said with only 3 losses to top guys there is no pressure yet,
    Love the Roy Nelson pick.

    Guys I would like to see move up or down include,
    Hector Lombard to 170 vs Thiago Alves.
    Rashad Evans to 185 vs Bisping, I thinkBisping takes it but would love the fight.
    C B Dollaway to 170 as he isnt over large at 185 but very solid and getting better every fight.

    Great article MCM, love this type of topic.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    On topic of moving up/down, one fight I’d love to see, and have wanted to see forever, but won’t happen is Faber vs Guida. Now that Clay moved down, if Faber moved back up they could do it, but they are both buddies so I doubt it does.

  • MCM says:

    I guess my point in picking GSP over Silva is that there is no game plan to beat to GSP. With AS at least there is a blue print for wining. Any strong wrestler with good top control and submission defense is going to be a problem for Silva. With GSP, you better pray to land that hay maker cause that’s the only shot anyone has. I agree Silva needs to move up, but that’s my reasoning for putting GSP in the top 5.


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