Ben Rothwell is two weeks away from making his UFC debut in a heavyweight fight with Cain Velasquez at UFC 104, and when I asked him this week how much he weighs, he said he's at 265 pounds, the heavyweight limit. It's a sign of how much the UFC's heavyweight division has changed that 265 doesn't seem all that big.
There was a time when a 265-pound heavyweight was considered huge, but today Rothwell isn't considered one of the sport's enormous heavyweights. The UFC 106 heavyweight title bout will feature two fighters, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, who have to cut to get down to 265, and the upcoming Strikeforce show on CBS features Antonio Silva, who weighed in at 267 for his last fight, and Brett Rogers, whose weight balloons up close to 300 pounds in between training camps. That's the reality of the heavyweight class in MMA today: Most of the fighters are built like defensive ends, not linebackers.
Still, when I asked Rothwell if he thought there should be another weight class between 205 and 265 pounds, he said he didn't know if there was enough talent in the heavyweight class to justify splitting it in half. Instead, Rothwell said to me and says in the above video, the smaller heavyweights would just be better off cutting to light heavyweight.
"These smaller heavyweights, I don't know if they're going to be able to cut it much longer," Rothwell said. "I think a lot of these guys are going to start cutting to 205."
I think they are, too. The best heavyweights in MMA history -- Fedor Emeliaenenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Mirko Cro Cop -- fought in the 230-pound range, but the bigger men represent the future of the heavyweight division.