by Ryan Bennett
Randy Couture shocked the world when he left the Heavyweight Division to win the Light Heavyweight Championship, beating Chuck Liddell a couple of years ago. Evan Tanner became champion at 185 by moving down in weight. Same could be said for Rich Franklin, who left the light heavyweight for the greener pastures of 185 and the championship belt. Cutting weight seems to take certain fighters to new levels in their careers by becoming champions, but for other fighters the EXPERIMENT hasn’t worked. Case in point, Igor Vovchanchin.
Vovchachin excited the MMA world when he told everyone he was moving down in weight from heavy to light heavy fighting in 205. In many fans eyes’ it would be Vovchachin to be the man that would give Wanderlei Silva a run for his money and his Pride Championship belt. Instead, after a lack luster win over Yuki Kondo, it was Vovchachin who was overwhelmed by Alistair Overeem at Pride’s Critical Countdown last June. To make matters worse, he then went down against Kazuhiro Nakamura just two months later.
1-2. A losing record after three fights in Pride. It was not the record many expected from the pride of Ukraine, as he left the heavyweight division for the bright lights of 205. Why hasn’t the weight cutting worked for Igor? MMAWeekly’s very own fighter residential fighter, Frank Trigg gives his take. “When you move down a weight class, you find out how quick fighters are. Igor as a heavyweight was the fastest guy to begin with. Now he’s finding out how quick these guys are. He has the power but not the speed in my opinion”
Igor, who may be at the bottom of the barrel right now in his fight career, can make a comeback of sorts this weekend in Europe. Vovchanchin will try to resurrect his career this weekend on the Bushido Europe card and of course it won’t be easy. Igor will have to face Kevin Randleman, the helter skelter fighter who can look like a world beater against Mirko Cro Cop, but has been flat as well, losing lack luster boring decisions against fighters like Sakuraba, a fighter he out weighed by 30 pounds. Still Randleman has name value, he’s been a former champion, and Igor has a shot to revive his career, if he can win impressively this weekend.
Vovchanchin has heard the negative criticism. Some say he’s too old, others believe the game has passed him by. After this fight this weekend, from the fighter closing in on 60 professional MMA fights, we should know if critics are right, that his age and game has passed him by. This fight should truly tell us if he is on his way back or if he should flat out retire.