In the last ten years, we have seen the sport of MMA grow massively with new promotions getting the spotlight and new weight classes born.
When UFC first came to be, they had very few weight classes such as heavyweight, welterweight, and middleweight. These were the only weight classes to exist until the light heavyweight and lightweight divisions. At one point, there were no division under 155-pounds. When UFC and Zuffa bought World Extreme Cage Fighting, that’s when more divisions came as WEC was the primary organization for the lighter divisions.
UFC buying WEC was one of the best moves the company has ever done, it gave them the chance to crown champions like Dominick Cruz, the first flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson and hall of famers like Urijah Faber. Eventually UFC added bantamweight, featherweight, and flyweight divisions and when Dana White decided to let women fight in the UFC, he created the 135, 125, 115, and 145-pound weight classes for them.
This shows how far the sport has come and the chance of more weight classes being added is always a possibility. In the last seven months, there has been talk of a potential 165-pound division between lightweight and welterweight. With this move, it could move welterweight to 175 pounds instead of 170, having all weight classes 15-pounds apart.
White has shot down the possibility, but like we have learned before, when Dana says no – most likely it’s a yes. With fighters like Ben Askren, Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier, James Vick, and Nate Diaz campaigning, the possibilities for this new weight class are endless and the division would house some of the best fighters to ever step foot inside the Octagon.
What would a 165-pound weight class be called?
With all the weights being 15-pounds from each other, turning to boxing could aid in that decision. 140-pounds in boxing is a lightweight fighter and a 147-pound fighter would be called a super lightweight/welterweight. So if 155-pounds is a lightweight fighter in UFC, a 165-pound fighter would be most likely be called a super lightweight or jr. welterweight.
Would there be a set roster for the 165-pound division? And who would be in it?
The hardest part about adding a new weight class, is making sure there is a roster for it. Having fighters who can fight at the weight naturally and fighters who can move up or down in weight classes is also critical. With a 165-pound division, there would be an immediate top-10 as many fighters from welterweight and lightweight would move up or down. With that in mind, the fights that you would be able to make are insane.
Fighters that are too small for 170 or too big for 155-pounds can now meet at 165. I truly feel this division would be one of the easiest to create in UFC.
Here is a short list of fighters who I feel would make the jump to fight at 165-pounds right away:
1. Ben Askren
Askren is making his UFC debut at UFC 235 and has not stopped talking about the potential of this division. There is so much hype surrounding this man and if he’s able to put away Robbie Lawler, he would easily be able to start calling some shots in UFC. Recently, Askren shared his thoughts on how White is very against the division being created. He believes when White is extremely against something, it means deep down that it will happen. Regardless, Askren is one of many fighters campaigning for this division and he would love to face Nurmagomedov for the inaugural belt when it happens.
2. Kevin Lee
Lee has always been a huge lightweight and kinda undersized for welterweight. He cuts a lot of weight for the division and if he jumps to the 165-pound weight class, it could be huge for his career. I could only imagine how good Lee would be at 165-pounds.
3. Michael Chiesa
Chiesa is also another fighter who has always been big for the weight class. He is now fighting at 170-pounds, which seems to fit him well, however if UFC were to add this new division, you can assure yourself that Chiesa would be moving down 5-pounds. He could be a big problem for many fighters at 165-pounds.
4. Rafael dos Anjos
The former UFC lightweight champion is now fighting at welterweight and is ranked in the top-5. He has already got a crack at a world title at 170-pounds, however, he always struggled to make 155-pounds. This is a man would almost die the day before his fights cutting weight. At 170, he is very undersized and would be perfect at 165-pound division.
5. Nate and Nick Diaz
Both the Diaz brothers have been fighting at a weight they were never normally satisfied with. Nick has always been a welterweight but an undersized one at that. He has never (maybe early in his career) has made the jump to 155-pounds. Nate has been a lightweight for most of his career, there is no secret that Nate is a huge lightweight and a small welterweight so a 165-pound division could possibly add not one, but both Diaz brothers.
6. Conor McGregor
There is no secret that the “Notorious” one was always a huge featherweight and him moving up to lightweight was the best thing for him. However, at 155-pounds, his weight cut isn’t extremely easy either. With a 165-pound division, it would mean a new belt and a fresh landscape to take over. I assure you that would catch the attention of Conor and I have a feeling if he wins his next fight, he’ll campaign for this division and a new belt.
7. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib has always struggled with his weight cuts, some nearly killing him. I highly doubt the current 155-pound champion would stay in his division, if UFC decided to create this new one. It’s inevitable at this point in his career.