While a size advantage isn’t always a sure way to win in MMA, it doesn’t hurt to be a little bit bigger than your opponent.

The UFC’s middleweight division has seen a lot of guys recently drop down from light heavyweight to become a whole 20 pounds lighter on fight day. It isn’t just your typical middle-of-the-road light heavyweight, either. These are some of the top names at 205 pounds, and they make the middleweight division all the more tougher to navigate.

Fighters like Mark Munoz, Michael Bisping and, more recently, Lyoto Machida have made the drop from light heavyweight to middleweight. Those aren’t your typical fighters. Instead, these are just some of the guys that make up the current top 10 at 185 pounds.

The mass exodus of fighters from the light heavyweight division is almost unparalleled. Sure, the movement of fighters from the heavier divisions is pretty rare, but when you look at the lower weight classes—most notably featherweight and the newly formed flyweight divisions—it has happened as often and with just as much talent.

Take the featherweight division as an example. In recent years, many lightweights have shed the extra 10 pounds to join the ranks of the 145-pound division. You have top talent like former UFC lightweight champions Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn making the move. Then, looking even further, you have fighters like Clay Guida, Dennis Siver and former No. 1 contender Kenny Florian. That is just the tip of the iceberg at featherweight.

Then there is the UFC’s smallest male weight class, the flyweights. The 125-pound division has current champion Demetrious Johnson and former top contenders Brad Pickett, Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen. All of those men previously competed as bantamweights, and at the highest levels of that division, no less.

Yet, the reason middleweight sticks out the most is because, unlike the lower weight classes, there is more focus on the 185-pound division. It’s a division that was long ruled by Anderson Silva, a fighter many consider to be the greatest of all time. Not to mention, the guys who have moved down are coming from one of the most highly touted divisions the UFC has to offer. Machida and eventual middleweight Rashad Evans, both former 205-pound champs, have fought current light heavyweight kingpin, Jon Jones, though neither was able to top the phenom. With no prospects of a title at light heavyweight, their best most was to drop to middleweight and make a run there. They bring with them the notoriety that comes from the light heavyweight division.

Flyweights do not get much attention despite being one of the most—if not the most—technical weight classes in the UFC. Featherweights also seem to suffer from the “Jose Aldo effect,” as the featherweight champion makes everyone look silly. See, while the names dropping from light heavyweight are top-10 talent for sure, the fighters dropping down in the lower weight classes also are widely recognized as top-10 talent as well. It’s not a matter of the fighter’s rank, therefore, but of how their division is viewed by a majority of fans. In that are, the light heavyweights and middleweights certainly have the upper hand.

The surprising thing here is the weight drop from light heavyweight to middleweight is 20 pounds. Compare that with the drops at everything below lightweight, where the gaps come in 10-pound increments.

Cutting weight is no joke, but these guys are dropping an extra 10 pounds compared to the other weight classes. While at lower weight classes cutting weight is much harder—not as much water to lose and other various things—the extra 10 pounds could be a huge difference in an easy weight cut and a much harder one.

Still, the advantage to gain from fighting in a smaller weight class is a tough one to pass up. If you can make the weight, it is worth the cut. Some of these guys cut down just to avoid becoming the top-ranked gatekeeper. They realized that they have no chance to get that title fight again—that’s the case for Machida, Edgar and Florian. Some guys don’t fare well at light heavyweight and then dominate the weight class they jump down to. But the advantage is just that, an advantage. The drop in weight doesn’t necessarily equate to an instant domination of the smaller weight class.

Photo: Lyoto Machida (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.