When the UFC first hit the scene back in 1993, there were few rules and even fewer weight classes. Actually, there were no weight classes. The UFC was essentially an open weight tournament. But back then, it was more of a sideshow than an actual sport. Fighters entered the arena with dancers, some sporting afro wigs, I even remember seeing a guy fight with just one boxing glove. Back then, the concept of mixed martial arts was something new and something that was actually still coming to form. The fighters usually entered the octagon versed in their own discipline, unlike the fighters of today who have some grasp of multiple fighting styles. We may not have learned much from watching the spectacle that was the UFC back in the early 90’s, but what I did take from it was that it doesn’t really matter what size you are, because a little guy like Royce Gracie was beating up guys twice his size, and doing it on a regular basis!
So we’re now in 2009 and the UFC is bigger than ever, the fighters consist of world class athletes, and MMA is no longer considered “human cockfighting” as John McCain liked to call it. The UFC has evolved to include stricter fighting rules, weight classes, and even attire restrictions. Now we have world class champions like Anderson Silva and George St. Pierre. They are so good in fact, that competition is becoming harder and harder to come by. Anderson Silva was walking through his opponents so easily, he had to move up a weight class to face the bigger James Irvin, who he beat easily. He also fought the much bigger Dan Henderson who he dismantled and eventually choked out in the second round. So did the UFC have it right in the beginning? Do they really need weight classes? I know it may sound crazy, but I may be on to something. Lyoto Machida, the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (who might I add, has yet to lose a single round in the UFC), recently said that he would fight UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. Would anyone call Lyoto Machida crazy? I think not.
Now in reality, Dana White would probably never go for it. As a fight fan though, I would pay $100 on pay per view to see Machida pick Lesnar apart. Yes, I do believe Machida would destroy Lesnar. Thus far, I don’t think Machida has had a solid punch landed against him. He simply picks apart his opponents with his awkward yet highly effective fighting style. Brock Lesnar on the other hand, has very limited skill and technique, but he uses his size and strength advantage to get good position on his opponents and batters them with punches.
Although this it totally hypothetical, and will probably never happen, the point is that skills usually beat out size (as Royce Gracie proved years ago). So why not have an open weight tournament in the UFC to see who is the world’s best MMA fighter? Once Fedor is done with his Affliction contract and can come to the UFC, put him in a 10 man tournament. As it stands now, I would also have to include Brock Lesnar, GSP, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, and Dan Henderson. I’m not saying these are the top 10 fighters in the UFC, but I think these 10 fighters would make for an interesting tournament. Now as for who would be the winner…We’ll probably never know.