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SportsColumnistsMark La Monica

Idea for two classes carries a lot of weight

Brock Lesnar celebrates after defeating Frank Mir in

Brock Lesnar celebrates after defeating Frank Mir in their heavyweight title bout at UFC 100 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. (July 11, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

When former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir uses all but two of the allotted 140 characters to tweet this next sentence, it makes you think.

"Brocks comments in his UFC interviews have inspired me to decide on holding off on going to 205, and working my way to fighting him again."

Brock, of course, is Brock Lesnar, the heavyweight champion heading into last night's title fight with Shane Carwin at UFC 116. The thought generated by his Twitter comment is simple. Can Mir really compete with the 265-pound?

Can anyone?

Sure, there's always that "anything can happen" possibility of a fight, but regardless of the outcome of last night's Lesnar-Carwin bout, there exists a distinct two-tier system within the heavyweight division.

Can the smaller heavyweights such as Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos truly compete with the new breed of fast, athletic and powerful 265-pounders?

UFC 116 was billed as "the biggest heavyweight fight in history." That's true as much in physicality as it is in promotion and hype.

Lesnar, who returned to the octagon for the first time in a year after battling diverticulitis, has freak speed, a powerful wrestling base and a chest the size of Minnesota.

Carwin has a top-tier ground game, thunderous hands and a chest the size of Colorado.

Mir was a mere 240 pounds when he lost to Lesnar at UFC 100. He bulked up to 265 later in 2009 to beat Cheick Kongo and remained at that weight for his loss to Carwin last March. The reason for his weight gain was an obvious attempt to draw closer in size to Lesnar.

But Mir is not alone in being a small heavyweight, if such a concept can exist in your mind. Velasquez is considered the next top contender at heavyweight. He weighs a meager 240 pounds. Dos Santos, another rising star, is 238 pounds. Of the top-ranked heavyweights in the UFC, only Roy Nelson approaches the division's 265-pound weight limit. But his 263-pound frame is more gut than chest.

The jump between light heavyweight (205 pounds) and heavyweight is the biggest of any weight class in mixed martial arts. While fighters in other divisions must maintain a strict diet to make weight, heavyweights can eat just about anything they want. Lesnar said he just had to skip a meal or two in order to get down to 265 at Friday's weigh-in, where as Carwin had to drop about 10 pounds.

That means that come fight night, these heavyweights will weigh more than 265 pounds. And although weight gain in the 24-plus hours between weigh-ins and fight night is typical for all fighters, it makes the great divide in the heavyweight division that much greater.

Is it fair? Is it right? Who knows. The idea of a super heavyweight division has floated around for some time but never gains much traction beyond the few days after a Lesnar or Carwin match.

The only way these questions will get answered is when these fighters do what they train to do: fight.


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