Lee: Don’t wait for me to die before adding 165 division
There are too many weight divisions in boxing, and the gaps between them too small. For example, there are three divisions in the first 8.8 pounds. The gaps in mixed martial arts are too large. For example, there is one division between 185 and 205.
Some progressive commissioners like ABC president and director of the Mohegan Tribal Department of Athletic Regulation Mike Mazzulli recognize champions outside the Unified Rules. And California executive director Andy Foster has put together a 10-point program to combat the culture of extreme weight cutting in mixed martial arts that included the addition of new divisions at 165 (super lightweight), 175 (super welterweight), 195 (super middleweight), and 225 pounds (cruiserweight). Those new divisions were voted on at the 2017 Association of Boxing Commissions convention, and passed unanimously.
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, issued a statement of support late last summer.
“UFC also anticipates that regional talent, who are regularly scouted and imported to UFC’s roster, will soon be robust enough to support these additional weight classes with world-class talent that will eventually be promoted by the global brand,” he said.
Top UFC lightweight Kevin Lee missed weight for his title fight vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Night 128, and advocates for the new division sooner rather than some time.
“There’s a reason why the athletic commissions approved it,” said Lee to Nick Baldwin for BloodyElbow.com. “Paul Felder, a couple minutes before I stepped on the scale, he stepped on the scale and he’s 190. Edson is just as big as me. Khabib has documented kidney failure and is still trying to make 155 from 190. They’re waiting on me to die. I’m pushing for it because that’s what needs to be done.”
There is an argument that too many titles adds clutter, but Lee counters that given the number of interim belts. For example, at UFC 225, Rafael dos Anjos fights Colby Covington for the interim welterweight belt.
“They can go ahead and after this interim title fight, scrap , and make a 175-pound division,” said Lee. “The [winner of RDA vs. Covington] champ vs. Tyron Woodley at 175. And then they go ahead and make a 165 division. There’s already three, four titles floating around that area, anyway. Why not just add an extra weight class and crown someone else the champion?
“They’re making another title in the same weight division, so instead of just having three random titles, why not just have three weight classes with three rightful champions?”
“I think it’s bound to happen. It’s already been approved; we’re just waiting on logistics.”