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205'ers: The Best that Never Were


KingZerxst
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At this point in MMA, there are two primary standouts in the Light Heavyweight class as the best in their day: Chuck Liddell and Jon Jones (possibly Dan Henderson as well, depending on how the rest of his MMA career plays out). That's not to say there aren't a lot of legends in the class, such as Shamrock, Tito, Couture, or the current top-of-the-heap Shogun, Rashad, and Machida. But the Iceman and Jones clearly stand out above the rest. This might not have been the case, however, had a few other fighters gone a different route with their careers. I'm not the first person to think of this by any means, but let me show you what I'm talking about for those who haven't...

 

 

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Mr. Mirko Cro-Cop, PRIDE Grand Prix champion and legend of the sport. One of the most feared and devastating sprawl-n-brawl kickboxers to ever fight in MMA. By the time he reached the UFC, he was not the same fighter as in his heyday. Whether or not it was the difference in competition, the acclimation to the cage, injuries, the lack of motivation, or any other array of variables, he did not live up to the hype. Not peaking out the weight limit of 265 and carrying around a suspect chin makes it very difficult to succeed in the modern HW class. He showed great success in PRIDE openweight fights against slightly smaller fighters, such as his highlight KO of Wandy. Earlier in his career, he was billed at 213 lbs. I am aware it is harder for fighters to cut weight as they get older, but if Cro-Cop were to have properly worked down to the PRIDE 203 at the time and maintained his weight, we could be talking about him, not Liddell, as the LHW great from that generation. His striking is arguably better than anyones at 205 at the time, and his wrestling is normally enough to get by, especially against smaller competition. He will still be revered as a legend of the sport, but he could be so much more, in my opinion at least.

 

 

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This is either Tank Abbott or Frank Mur. Either way, it's undoubtably Amazin'. Mir, oddly enough, is much like Cro-Cop in many ways. Decorated at HW with titles and accomplishments, elite submissions as opposed to striking, suspect chin, and could also have made 205 had he taken the right steps in his career. Mir has never been the biggest HW out there, until adding all the muscle after the Lesnar loss. I believe that had he lost the belly and stayed lean as opposed to putting on more weight, he could have been a dominant force at LHW. It's hard to say if he'd ever hold a belt or not, but I think he would be more successful as a gatekeeper in that class than getting his bell rung constantly by the big boys.

 

 

 

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I'm not the biggest Fedor fan out there, but as of right now, he is the GOAT at Heavyweight. Many considered him the overall GOAT before his string of losses. I feel that if he put in work early in his PRIDE days and lost the flab, we might still be talking about him as the all-time GOAT. Fighting at 205, we'd see a strong, quick, Fedor. I've always doubted the level of competition he's faced in Japan, and his recent losses point towards my belief being true, but I can't say for sure. All I know is that, against LHW's, Fedor Emelianenko would be a force to be reckoned with. Maybe he wouldn't be able to keep up with the new wave of fighters, but he certainly would have decimated almost all 205'ers of his time. Nothing is certain, but it's all an interesting 'what if?'

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Honorable mention:

 

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Don't be a duck, BJ. A Machida rematch is waiting whenever you want it.

 

 

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Where were you when we needed you most?

 

 

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It isn't too late for Daniel Cormier. He has entertained the thought of 205. Whether or not he can make the weight, I can't say for sure. But in all seriousness, it'd be scary to see him at LHW, and I'd love to watch him test Jones. I feel that he's the only man at the moment with a chance to put Jones on his back and actually challenge for the belt. We'll see how it plays out.....

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Bas Rutten could have been a force in the early days if it weren't for injuries. He beat the record holder for title defeses (at the time) multiple times. Sprawl and Brawl fighter with decent submissions. Could have rued 205 with an iron fist until the tito ortiz era began, or could even have delayed tito ortiz's rise.

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Bas Rutten could have been a force in the early days if it weren't for injuries. He beat the record holder for title defeses (at the time) multiple times. Sprawl and Brawl fighter with decent submissions. Could have rued 205 with an iron fist until the tito ortiz era began' date=' or could even have delayed tito ortiz's rise.[/quote']

 

Bas wasn't great at submission defense. A little overrated, in my opinion.

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