size advantage? for 20 years the gracies have crowed about size not mattering because of thier superior skills........NOW it matters? pfffft
they said they would take on all comers regardless of size and that there style could help defeat the larger opponent. In the modern era, size matters.
Fact is SAK, one of my favorite fighters who is a large 185lbs, fought Gracie's from 145lbs, 155lbs, 170lbs. In today's MMA world that size advantage is unheard of.
Weidman vs Urijah Faber?
Weidman vs. Henderson?
Weidman vs. Hendricks?
no way we see these fights happen! BJ Penn was the closest as he fought high level from 155lbs-HW, but he isn't normal!
I love Sakurabas flowing grappling style.
You are totally right size matters a lot and I think it unrealistic to expect fighters to do any of those crazy 300 pounder against 150 pounder fights like in Pride days.
However I don't agree about Sakuraba being big 185. He weighted around 183 lbs in his prime and lied about his weight to get fights in more prestigious upper weight classes. Most Japanese fighters didn't cut water weight at Pride days. Now add to that fact that Sakuraba was always pudgy, he was far from ripped and his abs were basically invisible. That means he was non-cutting and quiet fat(for athlete in weightclass sport) 183 pounder. Interesting that he was able to make weight for 168 lbs welterweight belt fight at age of 41 and even then he wasn't ripped. At that age it becomes very hard to do heavy water weight cutting and if still he wasn't ripped, it is very realistic that Sakuraba could easily be lightweight in his prime or average welterweight. Gracies weren't big either, but they were leaner. So I think that actual muscle mass wasn't that different between Saku and Royce(at their fight fight Saku weighted-in 178), Ryan or Renzo except for Royler who was smaller. We can take for example GSP; he is welterweight yet walks around 190 lbs and are not fat, so his weight cut is mostly water weight. He would be average sized middle weight by todays standards not Saku.
BTW. It seems that fighters who have a bit more fat gets constantly over billed. Two good examples are Anderson Silva and Rampage Jackson. People say that they cut from 220 and 250 lbs respectively. This numbers although correct gives totally unrealistic impression. Both of them gain a lot of fat when not in the camp. I have seen some pictures and videos where you can barely recognize Silva with double chin when he is at that weight. However when they are active and training they are around 195 and 215. Then they do water weight cutting. Even then Silva isn't really ripped at 185. If you want to see ripped Silva watch his Shooto Championship fight at 168 lbs in 2001. He went down to welterweight as late as 2006 at age 30 and even suggested fight with GSP in his weight like year ago. This is possible because he isn't huge; his very normal middle weight for todays standards same as Rampage isn't huge light heavy weight.
This makes alot sense, but you didn't mention much about Anderson easily going up to 205lbs and nit looking small. I've been in the same locker room with him (BITH cornering different fighters) and he is "big"
Thanks for the great post!