Lesnar vs. Carwin: Weight One Minute

Lesnar vs. Carwin: Weight One Minute

(Shane Carwin works the mitts with trainer Trevor Wittman.)
(Shane Carwin works the mitts with trainer Trevor Wittman.)

It’s official. Brock Lesnar will make his first defense of the unified Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title against Shane Carwin at UFC 106 on Nov. 21 in Las Vegas, Nev.

There are two obvious storylines leading up to the match: the good versus evil subtext of a fight between the conscientious Carwin and the loud-mouth Lesnar, the intrigue of watching the super-sized champ square off with an opponent who is just as large and athletic as Lesnar. But regardless of how people feel about the champ and challenger and no matter who goes home with the belt, the real impact of Lesnar vs. Carwin will be measured by how athletic commissions and promoters address the growing size disparity among heavyweight fighters.

Open weight tournaments can be entertaining but they rarely demonstrate the supremacy of technique, as the Gracies claimed in the early days of the UFC. As a rule, the larger, stronger fighter will prevail in a bout between equally skilled combatants. That’s why weight classes were established for boxing, wrestling, and other combat sports. That’s why BJ Penn looks so good at 155 pounds and so bad at 170. That’s why Anderson Silva is so damn scary.

From flyweight to light heavyweight, no more than 20 pounds separates the classes and it can be safely assumed that fighter’s weight is within 10 pounds of his opponents come fight time. But 60 pounds separates light heavyweights from heavyweights and the size and composition of fighters in that division varies dramatically. Roy Nelson is a 225-pound guy in a 250-pound body. Randy Couture is fit at 225, while Frank Mir fights well at 240. But guys like Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin cut weight to make the 265-pound limit. They might outweigh an opponent by 40 pounds or more on fight night and that’s simply not fair when every other division features fights between equally matched competitors.

I’m not arguing for the creation of a super heavyweight division. I know the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts allow for one but there is no way that major promotions will stray from the powerful cultural connotations of the title, “heavyweight champion of the world.” Why not then set a limit of 235 pounds for light heavyweights and reclassify 205 pounds as the cruiserweight division?

The UFC has tweaked its divisions with some regularity since the early days and I am convinced that at some point we will see flyweights, bantamweights, and featherweights fighting under the UFC banner. Can’t we make a concession so that heavier guys can take more competitive fights? Mir, Couture, Antonio Nogueira, Mirko Filipovic, and Heath Herring would all benefit from a 235-pound limit, leaving the heavyweight division to a new kind of athlete – the agile and athletic 280-pounder.

Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin aren’t genetic freaks. They are the logical conclusion of a century of advances in nutrition and athletic training. There are more of them out there – college wrestlers who missed the Olympic cut, football players hanging on to practice squad paychecks in the NFL, power forwards who don’t have the game for the NBA – and they are finding their way to MMA.

God help 240-pound heavyweights when they get here.


  1. This article is full of fail. Yes Lesnar is very much so a genetic freak. You can’t look like that without genetics playing a role no matter how hard you train. Guys his size don’t move as swiftly and quick as he does.

  2. Mir and Herring usually weigh in around 250-255. By that logic, you could add the 240 pound Gonzaga to the list of fighters that would (not) benefit from a 235 class. Randy Couture was able to take the behemoth Lesnar down multiple times in the first round but then got hit with multiple power elbows and punches in the next – it’s skill that wins fights, not size.

    • Mike – Humans have been getting larger for centuries, Carwin and Lesnar are just ahead of the curve. We’re probably closer to agreeing than you think, I just don’t think the term “genetic freak” is accurate or appropriate, especially when there is a relatively large group of men out there with similar genetic traits. And yes, quickness is very much a result of training. If Lesnar trained to be a strongman instead of a wrestler, he wouldn’t be nearly as nimble.

      Godzillad – Did you just use Couture vs. Lesnar as an example to prove that skill, not size, wins fights?

      Thanks for reading and “weighing” in on the topic.

  3. I really enjoy reading your articles Neal and I hope that some day I can write as well and as interesting as you. I agree with what you said about the Lightheavyweight division could even out some playing grounds. At 235, the lightheavyweight division would be even more stacked leaving better competition. A cruiserweight division is interesting but might leave to a slow start like the UFC’s earlier heavyweight division but still I think it’s a very good proposal.


  4. That is why this will be Lesnar’s first real fight as a heavy weight fighter.He has been fighting people 35 pounds lighter then him.The guys Lesnar has been fighting are cruiser-weights.Dana White said years ago weight didn’t matter.Weight is paramount now.UFC signs Cro-Cop.WHY!The guy is a heavyweight that weighs 220 pounds.Randy Couture is what 225.

    It’s not Lesnar’s superior fighting ability that has people tuned in.He lays on his out weighed opponents(35lbs)and throws punches.It’s his antics after the fights.Lets see how he does with a opponent that is nearly the same size.

  5. Spot on…
    Myself and fellow ufc Junkies have talked about the very same thing…This is needed before any silly 195lb division.

  6. I think the light heavyweight division should stay at 205. The UFC could be implement a cruiserweight division with a limit of 225. From that point, the heavyweight division begins. Fighters like Brock and Carwin don’t come around often. They present problems for fighters and I think that’s warranted. Most of the heavyweights are 230lbs and above. I think things would be a bit more even, if a weight class is added. Sometimes, you get athletes who are freakish which Brock and Carwin are.

  7. Before the UFC makes any more divisions I would like to see them bring the WEC’s 145 and 135 pound divisions into the fold. I believe the gap is causing good fighters that are not natural 155 pound fighters to become “Gate keepers.”

    There are also other fighters in those weight classes that deserve top billing, not just an audience of “hardcore” MMA fans. Lets be honest no one outside of the world of MMA really knows who Miguel Torres, Brian Bowles, and Mike Thomas Brown is. Faber is the only one who really gets any publicity and that is because of he was the face of the promotion.

    Before we see 225, 235 or any other division implemented I want to see 145 and 155 get their proper credit. It will only help grow the UFC and the sport overall.

  8. I agree that Lesnar is a genetic freak…but there are 300 Lesnar’s hanging out in NCAA and NFL camps as we speak. It wont be long until the draw to MMA compels some of them to hang up the cleats for bag gloves. And I truly believe that will start to happen sooner as opposed to later. More extremely athletic 285 pound guys will equal super bad news for awesome 230-240 pound fighters under the current classes.

  9. There is no reason for a cruiserweight division. Every single division has guys that weigh-in way over what their weight class is tapped for. A good example is Thiago Alves and that didn’t help him any against Georges. If the UFC adds a division to stop huge guys from fighting smaller guys, all it will do is make the fighters that aren’t as good as Brock cut down to cruiser weight. Who, besides carwin and Bob Sapp would stay at the heavyweight level?
    And for people that are saying 300 pound guys are in the NCAA and NFL right now and will come to MMA soon is unfortunately mistaken. The pay scale is night-and-day between the two sports (NFL league minimum is $800,000 and that’s for unknown rookies).
    No matter the number of weight classes, fighters will always try to gain an edge by coming in heavier than they are supposed to. The only thing that can change that is if the weigh-ins are the morning of the fights.

  10. This article is right on the money. I totally agree: the 235 limit is perfect. I’m been complaining for years to anyone that will listen that 205 plus is way too open-ended as a heavyweight division.

  11. Weigh-Ins on morning of should be a must because without that u get guys like Alves out-weighing Pierre by almost 15+ pounds on fight night and a guy like Brock out weighing Mir by 40+…. Now this doesn’t nessesarily mean that there going to walk out with the W but it sure helps even the odds for guys like Mir….Brocks size has nothing to do with genetics… Google his parents and what his parents look like and you’ll see its not GENETICS that got him his size more like SUPPLEMENTS, (i.e. steroids or other performance enhancers)and hard work in the gym. Brock is a joke and the only fan base he has in the UFC are lil Kids joining the fan base of UFC for the wrong reasons… and Brock brings that shitty ass mentallity with him where ever he goes. The so called kids I speak of are the ones that like to see FAKE entertainment and not the skill set a fighter posseses.
    As far as weight classes go I like where its at now, if ur closer in weight to 205 its in ur best interest to drop to that for your advantage but fighters at 225 its better to get as big as u can before fight night (w/out going over 265) so you have an advantage. But for the guy that said UFC should implament a 155 pound class in the UFC???? Do u even watch the UFC cause that class was established when they made real rules in the game!!! Go back to WWE and watch ur fake programs son…and for the people that said shane and Brock are freaks of nature u obviously dont watch NCAA and NFL and Powerman Compatitions….and to say that all the guuys trying out for the NFL get a job with them and there gonna start making 800k off the rip??? go to any training camp and see how many massive men get cut on a daily basis….and what kinda job is that guy going to look for ???? a bouncer possition at a night club…no sir notas long as he’s been working on his size and strength he’s going to go for the best possible place for him and thats where the pay is good, no over-time, good benifits and live like a rock-star!!! This is just my oppinion but like it or hate it its the truth!!!

  12. I am a fan of Lesnar, but I didn’t appreciate the comment he said after defeating Mir. Frank Mir is a great fighter. Lesnar had to beat him to become a legitimate fighter. Lesnar’s next fight will be his best test to date. Bring it on. Can’t wait to see this 1…..

  13. isnt the WEC part of the UFC or Zuffa or something like that? and they have bantamweight, featherweight and flyweight.

  14. Hey I totally agree with bringing the featherweights and bantamweights into the ufc!! There is such a group of raw natural talent in the WEC and like the earlier post says, only the hardcore mma fans know who these guys are. The smaller fighters deserve the pay just as much or more than the lightweight fights we see in the ufc. They always bring everything they got and always out there to prove theirselves, its the classic little man syndrome, and that is what creates sweet ass fights!! I think it is only a matter of time before we see this happen but hopefully sooner than later.

  15. Man, I don’t even get this.
    Why would heavy-weights have a weight limit at all ?
    What do you have to call it to make it the max to the max ?
    Super-Heavy-Weight ?
    There should be a weight class with No limits.
    I don’t care if a Sumo wrestler wins it, Super-Super !
    Does anyone get me ?

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