Doc – Please help settle an ongoing debate. Did the altitude in Denver have a negative effect on the fighters? And were heavyweight fighters at more of disadvantage than the lighter-weight guys?
I don't know if I can settle anything, but I'll certainly add my two cents.
The basic question is: Does significant altitude affect athletic performance?
Remember that the human body is an engine. It needs three basic things to run: oxygen, water and fuel/food, in that order. The bigger the engine, the greater the potential consumption of all three components. Therefore, heavyweight fighters are at a greater disadvantage than the lighter-weight athletes. The big boys need a tremendous amount of oxygen to fire up the engine and move that load. As we all saw at UFC 135 in Denver, obviously oxygen was in short supply.
Let's put it all together.
The altitude in Denver provided less available oxygen in the blood. Heavyweight fighters are doing more work because they have a greater load to carry. The body compensates by increasing heart rate and breathing, which causes the fighter to burn through his "tank" faster and gas.
I won't even begin to bore you with why weight-cutting makes this altitude problem far worse.
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