Former UFC fighter Josh Thomson and “Big” John McCarthy have weighed in on the likelihood of the UFC introducing the 165-pound and 175-pound divisions, and potentially getting rid of 170 pounds.
The addition of a 165-pound weight class has been discussed for quite some time now. The chatter was rekindled amid rumors regarding a potential showdown between Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler. The “Notorious” one initially claimed he’d be fighting Chandler on June 29 in the middleweight division. UFC CEO Dana White denied that claim, leaving McGregor frustrated over his status. Rumors have since been swirling on the possible addition of a 165-pound championship for the McGregor vs. Chandler fight, but it’s all speculation at this point.
Thomson believes he knows when the chatter for the new weight class truly started.
Josh Thomson Reveals When 165-Pound Talks Truly Took Off
Josh Thomson and John McCarthy spoke on the possibility during an episode of the “WEIGHING IN” podcast. Thomson said that it was Khabib Nurmagomedov who truly got the conversation started.
“We’ve had this conversation for years now, you and I, and I know a lot of promotions and a lot of fighters have all been pitching for it, especially when Khabib [Nurmagomedov] was in the UFC,” Thomson said. “There was a lot of talk about it because Khabib always struggled to make weight being the most dominant fighter, especially in the lightweight division but probably in the sport over a lifetime, in our lifetime anyway, he has been the most dominant fighter inside the cage. The 165-pound weight class would’ve been very beneficial to him. 155 he could make, 165 is probably right where he would’ve loved to have been, but that doesn’t mean you get rid of ’55. You go ’55, ’65, ’75, and pushing Leon up to, I think, ’75, I don’t know. Maybe Leon could make ’65?”
Thomson then asked McCarthy if the 165-pound and 175-pound divisions have been formally introduced in pro MMA competition.
“It’s been there since 2017,” McCarthy said.
John McCarthy On What Has Blocked 165 Pounds In UFC
McCarthy went on to express his belief that Dana White is not the one who has been blocking the division from making its way to the UFC.
“The real question with the weight class has been promoters not so much caring about it,” McCarthy said. “I think Dana would like to have the extra weight class ’cause it only helps him in putting championship fights on his pay-per-view cards. It’s always the matchmakers. The matchmakers are the ones that go, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Don’t screw up my weight classes because you’re gonna water ’em down.’ That’s a lie.”
Ultimately, Thomson feels the UFC will announce a 165-pound weight class down the line. He believes that in 2024 and beyond, content is king, which is good news for fighters who are hoping for a change.
“The reason why I think this may potentially happen is there’s gonna come a time when the UFC may decide that, ‘We are a very big promotion, and we are now joined with the WWE and that we feel like we could probably host and carry our own network,’ or at least have content that fills that,” Thomson said.
“Big” John doesn’t see the UFC ditching its current deal with ESPN, but he understands Thomson’s point.
“The UFC’s got a great deal with ESPN, a great deal,” McCarthy said. “So, I’m not saying that they wouldn’t eventually say, ‘Okay, it’s time for us to part ways,’ but right now I think they’re happy with what they have.”
Whether or not the UFC will finally go through with adding a weight class remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, and that is the hype train surrounding such a move is alive and well.
Here’s the latest episode of the “WEIGHING IN” podcast: