by Peter Parsons
Rumors are swirling about the UFC bringing back what many fans call the most exciting weight class in MMA. With 12 shows on Spike TV in 2006, (Last week MMAWeekly Radio reported there could be 19) there will be a need for more fighters for UFC television. What a perfect time to bring back the 155 pounders.
There have been rumors on the internet MMA forums and message boards about many possible match ups including Kenny Florian and Jorge Gurgel. This would be a great fight between two BJJ black belts who like to stand and trade. The fight becomes that much more interesting at 155 instead of 170 add to the fact that it’s a great fight between a TUF 1 vs. TUF 2 fighter you have all the makings of a good battle in the 155 division.
Florian and Gurgel aren’t the only natural Lightweights to have moved up in weight for an opportunity to compete in Spike TV’s hit reality series, The Ultimate Figther. Another matchup between a TUF 1 and TUF 2 fighter that would be guaranteed fireworks is Melvin Guillard vs. Alex Karalexis. Melvin has had fights at 155 in the past and Karalexis has said that 155 would be the ideal weight class for him. The TUF 1 vs. TUF 2 format would be very intriguing to the casual fans who have become interested in MMA through the reality show.
What about some of the best Lightweight fighters in America who went to Japan because of the lack of Lightweight division in the UFC? Many referred to Yves Edwards as the uncrowned UFC Lightweight champion after his highlight reel knockout victory over fellow Lightweight standout Josh Thompson at UFC 49 which culminated a 6 fight winning streak in the UFC octagon. Edwards, like many American fighters, has expressed an interest in fighting again in his home country.
Then there’s the first and only Lightweight champion in UFC history in Jens Pulver. Pulver is 6-0-1 in the UFC and 3-0 in UFC title fights. “Little Evil” last defended his title against the then undefeated BJ Penn in a five round majority decision in the main event of UFC 35 back in 2002. Pulver is a small Lightweight by today’s standards and has fought as low as 143 pounds in the Shooto organization. Pulver is very small for the Pride 160 lbs Lightweight division and having put on some more size, he would be a force again at 155 in the UFC.
Pulver also holds a victory over TUF 2 Welterweight champ Joe Stevenson at the Bas Rutten Invitational 3 in 1999 early in their careers. For Stevenson this fight took place 9 days after he turned 17 and Stevenson has went on record stating that he would like to avenge his loss to Pulver.
Could we see TUF 2 Welterweight champ Joe Stevenson fighting in the UFC 155 pound division? Like TUF 1 Middleweight champion Diego Sanchez, Joe Stevenson could drop down to a weight division where he has fought in the past. At welterweight, I’m not sure Joe would be a title threat any time soon whereas at 155, I believe Joe would be an immediate title contender.
There are numerous American Lightweights who have fought in Japan recently, but what about a Japanese star coming over to the UFC? Genki Sudo has said in the past that he would like to be a champion of the UFC and in fact has fought 3 times in the UFC. Genki Sudo is one of the biggest Lightweight stars in Japan and is a very marketable fighter with his charisma and unique style.
Sean Sherk is a fighter who is coming off of a tough loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 56 which may have shattered his dreams of becoming the welterweight champ of the UFC. Moving down to 155 may keep Sherk’s dreams of becoming a UFC champion closer to reality. Yeah, I know he has .02 percent body fat or whatever the case may be, but I also know that he is 5’6″, walks around at 175 and judging by his physique, the “Muscle Shark” does a lot of weight training. Sherk’s manager Monte Cox told MMAWeekly Radio’s Ryan Bennett and Frank Trigg that Sherk wants to fight in the 155 division.
There are many top Lightweight fighters who are fighting in Japan or are fighting up a weight division in the US because of a lack of a Lightweight division in the premiere MMA promotion in the US. That being said, there are also many very talented up and coming 155 pounders who have been busy fighting on smaller shows. Mac Danzig, Sam Stout, Roger Huerta, and David Gardner are a few of the many promising Lightweight fighters in North America. When the UFC brings the Lightweight division back, expect them to showcase the Lightweights on an upcoming season of TUF.
The UFC has received much criticism in the past for letting their Lightweight division go. I honestly can not blame them. When you have 6 shows per year with 8 fights per card, there just isn’t the space for 5 weight divisions. With the increase of shows set to take place on Spike TV next year in addition to their usual PPV shows, the UFC will need more fights and therefore will have more spots available to showcase their Lightweight division. It appears now is the time to bring back the Lightweights. Besides, who wants to watch another Kevin Jordan vs. Gabriel Gonzaga fight?