Brave CF announce 165lb and 175lb divisions for 2019 – Is it time for the UFC to follow suit?

This week Brave CF announced they will open a super-lightweight (165lbs) and super-welterweight (175lbs) division in 2019. Although Brave didn’t specify a particular date for the openings, they did note that current welterweight (170lbs) champion Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi (13-2), will become the Super-welterweight champion when the division is opened. The Brave CF Welterweight division will then be closed. Brave CF is only the second promotion to adopt the new divisions, Shooto Brazil adopted these divisions around 4 months ago.

Following the news of another promotion adopting the new divisions, it ponders the question of why the UFC is reluctant to take the promotion in the same direction.

Why not?

 There are pros and cons with any decision of this magnitude, though in this case, the pros seem too good to ignore. The plight of weigh-in issues has cost the UFC greatly since making the change to early morning weigh-ins. The decision was both applauded and condemned by fighters under the banner and as the saying goes “you can’t please everyone”. Whether it is better or worse for the fighters, it still remains that there have been more fighters missing weight and, as of late, many fighters have been in very bad states on the scales i.e. Aspen Ladd (7-0) at UFC 229, Uriah Hall (13-9) at UFC St Louis or Cynthia Calvillo (7-1) this past weekend at UFC Argentina.

The buffer in weight classes at 165lb and 175lb could provide homes for those fighters that are in-between weight classes and need those extra few pounds to turn a dangerous weight cut into a much safer one.

For those fighting at lightweight, a division above to move to, without it being a massive 15lb jump could aid many fighters in their development and careers. Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0), Kevin Lee (17-3) and Michael Chiesa (13-4) have all had weight cut issues in the past year or two but the jump to 170lbs is, maybe, just too large a jump up in weight, especially for young fighters in their prime. However, Khabib and Kevin have both made weight without issue since their problems, maybe their preparation is the only thing that needed adjusting but as young fighters, they will naturally grow out of the division and need to make a move up.

Moving on to the welterweight division, several fighters have had issues with weight. Darren Till (17-1-1) has missed weight on a couple of occasions and has now stated his intentions to move on to the middleweight division, how helpful would another 5lbs be to Darren? He is a young fighter with an abundance of talent, a large fan base and a fantastic record, but now faces the task of moving up 15lbs and starting again in a new division. It may not be a bad thing entirely, just ask Kelvin Gastelum (16-3) who has found himself with a title shot after blossoming at middleweight.

Who would fight in the divisions?

 The UFC has the luxury of not only a large roster of fighters but also being the most sought-after promotion in the world. Dana White also wants more title fights. It’s simple, he wants every Pay-Per-View to have a title fight and the big ones (MSG, International Fight Week, etc) to have a few title fights on them. This is presumably the point of Interim Titles. With more divisions, you get more champions and that will naturally lead to more legitimate title fights. Lightweight and welterweight have recently seen a backup of contenders, the lightweight queue was caused by the inactivity of Conor McGregor (21-4) at that weight and welterweight has just seen an abundance of contenders. Neither division will see a negative impact on the number of contenders coming through with the new divisions.

Who would go where?

Below is a mock-up of a potential top 10 (in no particular order) for lightweight through to super-welterweight. If it ever came to fruition it would depend on whether the fighters would want to move, although many fighters have spoken out in support of the new divisions lately.

Lightweight (155lbs)

·      Khabib Nurmagomedov

·      Tony Ferguson

·      Conor McGregor

·      Dustin Poirier

·      Edson Barbosa

·      Justin Gaethje

·      James Vick

·      Dan Hooker

·      Paul Felder

·      Alex Hernandez

Super-Lightweight (165lbs)

·      Kevin Lee

·      Rafael Dos Anjos

·      Nate Diaz

·      Michael Chiesa

·      Jorge Masvidal

·      Francisco Trinaldo

·      Donald Cerrone

·      Leon Edwards

·      Alex Oliveira

·      Jake Matthews

Super-Welterweight (175lbs)

·      Tyron Woodley*

·      Colby Covington

·      Darren Till

·      Kamaru Usman

·      Stephen Thompson

·      Robbie Lawler

·      Santiago Ponzinibbio

·      Damian Maia

·      Ben Askren*

·      Gunnar Nelson

*Ben Askren (18-0) arrival into the UFC brings questions with it. Tyron Woodley (19-3-1) is one of Askren’s training partners and friends. Askren has already stated he would never fight Tyron, so if one of them is happy to make 165lb’s, Askren could still have his chance at UFC gold without Woodley losing his title.

There are many exceptional fights to be made from the fantasy divisions above. However, it will all be just a fantasy until the UFC decides to shake the divisions up. Personally, I see it as an easy decision that would give fighters fresh opportunities and would give the promotion a new look.

Would you like to see these new divisions? Would you have anybody different in the weight classes? Let us know in the comments.

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