January 31, 2017

UFC on FOX 23: Masvidal the Latest Fighter To Move Up A Weight Class and Win

By Adam Martin

For the longest time, MMA was all about who could cut the most weight. But as the years have gone on and fighters have learned that depleting themselves cutting weight just to be the bigger fighter doesn't necessarily give an advantage, more and more fighters have moved up in weight, and many have had success doing so. Examples of fighters who have moved up in recent years and have achieved success in a higher weight class include Kelvin Gastelum, Robert WhittakerJohn Lineker, Tim Means, Donald Cerrone, and the man who knocked Cerrone out in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 23, Jorge Masvidal.

After coming over from Strikeforce, Masvidal went 5-2 as a lightweight, picking up wins over the likes of Means, Michael Chiesa, Daron Cruickshank, Pat Healy, and James Krause, with close decision losses to Rustam Khabilov and Al Iaquinta, but with only one finish during that time, over Chiesa. Following his loss to Iaquinta, and after struggling to make the non-title lightweight limit of 156 lbs, Masvidal decided to move up to welterweight, and since moving up to 170 lbs, Masvidal has looked like a legitimate title contender in his new weight class.

Since moving up to welterweight in July 2015, Masvidal has gone 4-2 with three knockouts, looking more and more like a finisher and showing the untapped potential many have thought he's had since his days in Bodog Fight and Strikeforce. Since moving to welterweight, Masvidal has finished Cerrone, Jake Ellenberger, and Cezar Ferreira, plus garnered a decision win over Ross Pearson, and his only losses came via split decision to Benson Henderson and Lorenz Larkin, both two excellent fighters, and both those decisions could have easily gone to Masvidal.

In the past, Masvidal's biggest issue has been in not pulling the trigger, even though he has all the skills, which cost him in the judges’ eyes in his razor-thin decision losses to Henderson, Larkin, Iaquinta, and Khabilov. But in his last two fights he's certainly pulled the trigger, and he has shown what he's capable of by taking out two extremely tough welterweights in Cerrone and Ellenberger. Masvidal has been nothing but impressive at this higher weight class, and the win over Cerrone cements his spot firmly among the UFC's top 10 welterweights.

Since moving up in weight, Masvidal has emerged as one of the UFC's most exciting fighters, and by knocking out Cerrone he has legitimized himself as a true welterweight contender. Other fighters who are cutting way too much weight to make a lower weight class should take notes from Masvidal and consider a move up in weight, because it's not always about who the bigger man in the cage is. Masvidal and a number of other great fighters have proven that in recent times.

UFC on FOX 23: Shevchenko vs. Peña took place January 28, 2017 at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

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