Just a year ago, heavyweight behemoths Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin fought to unify the UFC’s heavyweight and interim heavyweight belts at UFC 116. Both fighters had to cut weight to make the 265lb weight limit. Meanwhile, mega-heavies like Alistair Overeem (250+lbs), Antonio Silva (265+lbs), and Brett Rogers (265lbs) were thundering around Strikeforce’s cages.
Many said the heavyweight division needed to be split up into two divisions to give the 230lb guys a fair chance.
With Junior dos Santos’ (239lbs) win over a shrunken looking Shane Carwin (250lbs) at UFC 131 following Cain Velasquez (244lbs) shellacking of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121, some are saying the age of the giant heavyweight is over. Jonathan Snowden opined to that effect at SBNation:
And just like that, the era of the giant heavyweight was over and done – almost before it even started. The talking point last year was that giant heavyweights like Carwin and Brock Lesnar were the wave of the future. That men cutting weight from upwards of 285 pounds down to the heavyweight limit of 265 would smash Hulk style. But we forgot one thing – speed, as we’ve learned over and over again in sports, kills.
Carwin was like the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare parable, only an alternate reality fairy tale in which the rabbit nearly beats him to death. He plodded around the cage, seemingly content with Junior strolling over occasionally to punch him in the face. Historically, it’s a result that was predictable. Over and over again we’ve seen smaller, quicker, and more skilled heavyweights win UFC gold. Randy Couture, Kevin Randleman, and Bas Rutten were blown up light heavyweights. Andrei Arlovski walloped bigger men with speed and finesse. And the greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, weighs 220 pounds, much of that ice cream.
When (dos Santos and Velasquez) meet in the middle, neither will approach 250 pounds. The age of the mammoth is over – killed by Junior dos Santos Saturday in Vancouver.
Anthony Pace had a similar take at Head Kick Legend:
When Brock Lesnar first claimed the UFC title from Randy Couture, many hailed the arrival of “super-heavyweights”, mammoth athletes who barely fit within the 265 lb weight limit of the division. It was to be fighters like Lesnar and Carwin who, even if they had no diverse set of refined skills, would dominate the division based on sheer size and strength. But as Royce Gracie proved those many years and many UFCs ago, finely honed technique can bring down the biggest man.
That’s not to say that men like Lesnar and Carwin are unskilled. It’s just that many seemed to forget the likes of Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Many were obsessed with the sheer size of the fresh behemoths entering the sport.
It’s taken Velasquez with his crisp kickboxing combos, dominant wrestling, and relentless pace to remind us that time in the gym honing one’s skills is the only way to maximize genetic potential. And it’s taken dos Santos’s lightning-quick hand speed, unparalleled precision, and fearlessness in a firefight to prove that size is not the most intimidating aspect of a fighter. It’s befitting that dos Santos is a protégé of Nogueira, who made his legend slaying larger fighters.
It definitely looks like the UFC’s giants have been slain by a smaller, nimbler breed of heavyweight. But over at Strikeforce a certain Alistair Overeem will be straining the scales against Fabricio Werdum at this weekend’s second installment of the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix.
For his part, Overeem wants to unify the belts. Per the Toronto Sun:
“If I win the (Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix) tournament, I personally – and I believe many fans are with me – would love to see the winner of the tournament go against the UFC heavyweight champion,” the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Overeem said.
Will an Overeem win (potentially combined with a Brett Rogers win against Josh Barnett) mean the era of the mammoths is NOT over?
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