4 Fighters Who Successfully Changed Weight Divisions, And 3 Who Fared Disastrously

Alex Pereira’s recent successful defence of his light heavyweight title at UFC 303 has added the Brazilian’s name to the ever-growing list of fighters who have successfully changed weight divisions within the UFC. Today we take a look at some of the most notable examples (along with a few that didn’t fare quite as well). […]

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Alex Pereira’s recent successful defence of his light heavyweight title at UFC 303 has added the Brazilian’s name to the ever-growing list of fighters who have successfully changed weight divisions within the UFC. Today we take a look at some of the most notable examples (along with a few that didn’t fare quite as well).

CONOR McGREGOR

The original ‘champ champ’. The first man to simultaneously hold championship belts in two different weight divisions. “The Notorious” signed with the UFC back in 2013 having won both the featherweight and lightweight titles in Cage Warriors and within two-and-a-half years he knocked out Jose Aldo to claim the 145lb belt.

Image: Conor McGregor IG
Image: Conor McGregor IG

Less than a year later, he put on perhaps the best display of his career when he beat Eddie Alvarez at the iconic Madison Square Garden to claim the 155lb strap. He has also competed in the welterweight division, fighting Nate Diaz twice and Donald Cerrone. His recent (now postponed) comeback bout against Michael Chandler had been set to take place over five rounds at 170lbs.

DANIEL CORMIER

“DC” enjoyed huge success fighting as a heavyweight prior to signing with the UFC in 2013. He beat Antonio “Big Foot” Silva and Josh Barnett to win the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix in 2012 and began his UFC career with wins over former heavyweight champion Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, before making the decision to move down to 205lbs as his team-mate Cain Velazquez was the heavyweight champion at the time.

Cormier submitted Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in 2015 to claim the vacant light heavyweight title, and three years later he made the decision to move up and challenge then-champion Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title. He shocked the world by knocking out Miocic in the first round, although the Cleveland-born firefighter gained his revenge by beating Cormier twice in 2019/2020, retiring him from the sport.

Image: Robert Whittaker Instagram

ROBERT WHITTAKER

“Bobby Knuckles” signed with the UFC back in 2012 off the back of some impressive performances on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes and had mixed results during his time competing in the welterweight division. He won three of his first five fights, but losses to Court McGee and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson convinced Whittaker to test the waters at 185lbs.

What followed was an eight-fight winning streak, wins over the likes of Yoel Romero and “Jacare” Souza and the UFC middleweight title. Whittaker lost the belt to Israel Adesanya in 2022 but is still riding high at 185lbs and finds himself in the title picture once again after his recent knockout victory over Ikram Aliskerov.

HENRY CEJUDO

The 2008 Olympic gold medallist won his first four fights inside the Octagon to earn a shot at then-UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson back in 2016. Although Cejudo was knocked out in the first round, he soon worked his way back into title contention with some impressive victories over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis.

The rematch was a much closer affair, and “Triple C” ended Johnson’s record-breaking title reign and emerged victorious by way of a contentious split decision. A year later he moved up to 135lbs to challenge Marlon Moraes for the vacant UFC bantamweight title. He finished Moraes and then beat former champion Dominick Cruz in his first title defence in 2020, before relinquishing his belt and announcing his retirement, in what seemed like a power play due to contract issues with the UFC.

Cejudo returned to competitive action in May of 2023 but defeats to Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili have left him further away from title contention than he has been in a long time.

3 Fighters Who Moved Down A Weight Division…With Disastrous Results!

T.J. DILLASHAW

T.J. Dillashaw enjoyed two separate runs as UFC bantamweight champion. He shocked the MMA world when he destroyed Renan Barao at UFC 173 to capture the 135lb belt. After losing the title to Dominck Cruz two years later, he regrouped and beat Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker to earn another shot at gold.

He knocked out former team-mate Cody Garbrandt (who had won the belt from Cruz a year earlier), and after finishing “No Love” again in a rematch, made the decision to cut to 125lbs to challenge Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title.

 The decision proved disastrous. Dillashaw was knocked out after just 32 seconds, and a couple of months later it was announced he had been suspended for two years by USADA due to testing positive for EPO in the lead-up to the Cejudo fight.

He returned after his suspension ended and beat Cory Sandhagen to earn another shot at the 135lb belt but went into the fight against Aljamain Sterling carrying a serious shoulder injury and was finished easily. He has since walked away from the sport.

CODY GARBRANDT

Cody Garbrandt came into that first bantamweight title fight with T.J. Dillashaw unbeaten at 10-0 and riding high off the back of a career-best performance against Dominick Cruz.  The two losses he suffered at the hands of Dillashaw seemed to affect him badly. He was also knocked out by Pedro Munhoz in his next fight, and although he would claim a highlight reel finish over Raphael Assuncao in 2020, a defeat to Rob Font soon afterwards convinced him a change was needed.

Image: Cody Garbrandt Instagram

With no discernible path back into the bantamweight picture, “No Love” decided to make the cut to 125lbs for a fight against Australian flyweight contender Kai Kara-France at UFC 269. Another first-round knockout defeat followed, and Garbrandt stepped away from the spotlight for a much-needed break.

His return to the bantamweight division has been a little less calamitous. Wins over Trevin Jones and Brian Kelleher, followed by a submission loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 300 have hinted that perhaps his future lies slightly outside of the title picture for now, but most definitely should be at 135lbs.

DAN HOOKER

“The Hangman” picked up a string of impressive wins in the UFC’s lightweight division between 2017 and 2021, beating the likes of Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller. His record at 155lbs during that five-year spell sits at 8 wins and 4 defeats, but losses against the biggest names in the division such as Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Islam Makhachev convinced the Australian to think about a move down to 145lbs.

Image: UFC.com

His featherweight debut against Arnold Allen in London, England ended disastrously. At 6 feet tall, Hooker looked frail and weakened at 145lbs, and Allen destroyed him in little over two minutes. Hooker has since returned to the lightweight division and reeled off victories over Claudio Puelles and Jalin Turner.

One thing we know for certain: finding the right weight class is of paramount importance for a fighter. It can be the defining factor between a promising career and a championship legacy in the highly demanding world of the UFC.

Read More: Jon Anik Maintains Conor McGregor Has ‘An Itch That Can Only Be Scratched In The Octagon’ Amid UFC Return Uncertainty

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Former UFC Champ Warns Sean Strickland Against Avoiding Robert Whittaker Fight: ‘You Can’t Feel So Entitled’

After losing the UFC middleweight title to Dricus Du Plessis, Sean Strickland bounced back by defeating Paulo Costa at UFC 302 this past June. Since then, he’s been adamant about sitting out and fighting the winner of Du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya at UFC 305, Perth. However, Costa fought Strickland following a loss to Robert […]

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After losing the UFC middleweight title to Dricus Du Plessis, Sean Strickland bounced back by defeating Paulo Costa at UFC 302 this past June. Since then, he’s been adamant about sitting out and fighting the winner of Du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya at UFC 305, Perth.

However, Costa fought Strickland following a loss to Robert Whittaker. “The Reaper” has since beaten Khamzat Chimaev’s short-notice replacement Ikram Aliskerov easily to build his own case for another title shot.

Many believe that Strickland vs. Whittaker is the perfect title eliminator fight in the UFC middleweight division. Michael Bisping agrees and recently advised “Tarzan” to change his stance on turning down such a matchup…

Michael Bisping Reminds Sean Strickland About Downsides Of Waiting On The Sidelines

Bisping recently discussed Strickland’s latest motorcycle accident and next fight on his YouTube channel. He laid down situations in which waiting for a title shot instead of fighting Whittaker could affect the former champ’s ability to reclaim gold.

In the eyes of “The Count,” Strickland wouldn’t want a world where Du Plessis vs. Adesanya is razor close and results in a rematch. If, in the meantime, “The Reaper” racks up another dominant win, he’ll be more likely to get a title shot.

“You can’t sit around. You can’t feel so entitled. You have to go out there, stake your case, continue to apply your craft, get better with every single training camp. Make the statement that you are the uncrowned champion.”

Bisping looked at Whittaker’s impressive record as a middleweight, which contains three losses to only current or then-future champions. Because he walked out of the Aliskerov fight without damage, the Australian could feasibly return to the Octagon quickly and be the undisputed title challenger.

It is worth noting that the former British UFC middleweight champion isn’t critical of Strickland’s principles. After the razor-close decision loss to the current titleholder and a win since, he can rightly claim a second shot.

Nevertheless, Bisping maintained that it is still risky due to factors outside of his control.

“You do not want to wait on the sidelines. I mean, for example, let’s say Dricus beats Izzy. That’s a big if, but let’s just say he does. What if Dricus gets injured? What if that fight is so grueling, he tears a knee, he busts his eye up, he’s got a broken jaw. He’s coming back, but it’s going to be six to nine months. Is he still going to continue to wait on the sidelines?”

Overall, “The Count” only demands Strickland to not sit on the sidelines and do what he does best. Get inside the Octagon consistently, improve with every fight, and not let anyone else steal his claim at the title.

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Sean Strickland refuses to fight Robert Whittaker until he wins title again: ‘Do the right thing, UFC’

Sean Strickland refuses to fight Robert Whittaker until he wins UFC title againDespite calls from fans and pundits alike for a middleweight title eliminator between former champions, Sean Strickland, and Robert…

Sean Strickland refuses to fight Robert Whittaker until he wins UFC title again

Despite calls from fans and pundits alike for a middleweight title eliminator between former champions, Sean Strickland, and Robert Whittaker – the former has once more shut down the clash, until he wins the divisional crown first.

Strickland, who currently holds the number one rank in the official middleweight pile, managed to remain the divisional top spot holder at UFC 302 back in May, securing a split decision win over common-opponent, Paulo Costa.

Sean Strickland calls for UFC to become American again we're gonna be watching Dagestanis or Brazilians

As for fellow ex-champion, Whittaker, just last month at UFC Saudi Arabia, the fan-favorite striker turned in a short-notice win over Ikram Aliskerov, finishing the highly-touted Russian prospect with a stunning first round knockout win.

And weighing up potential fights with the likes of Strickland in a bid to earn another title fight rematch with either Dricus du Plessis or Israel Adesanya – who meet at UFC 305 next month, Whittaker confirmed plans to make an end-of-year return.

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Sean Strickland again shuts down Robert Whittaker fight

However, one party certainly holding no interest in a fight with Whittaker is the previously noted, Strickland – who wants to fight for the undisputed championship first and foremost.

Whittaker UFC Saudi 2 1

“The thought that Whittaker gets a title show before me is f*cking wild…” Sean Strickland posted on his official X account. “Bro you’re 0-3 – with a stoppage lol. I beat both those c*nts lol. Do rankings matter?! Do the right thing UFC.”

“He can get it after I win my belt back,” Sean Strickland wrote.

Earlier this month to boot, outspoken former champion, Strickland hit the headlines once more after he voiced his concern for the status of American fighters in the promotion, claiming they will soon be replaced by their Dagestani, Russian, and Brazilian counterparts. 

“At one point, there’s gonna be no f*cking Americans left in the UFC,” Sean Strickland said. “We’re all gonna be watching Dagestanis, and Russians, Brazilians fighting. No one’s gonna give a f*ck. So, that’s what I think about that, you know. Let’s the make the UFC American again.

Do you want to see Sean Strickland fight Robert Whittaker in the future? 

Robert Whittaker Backs Teammate To Climb Into UFC Middleweight Top 10: ‘I’m The Best In The World & He Gives Me Trouble’ (Exclusive)

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker expects his division’s title picture to soon have another Australian making waves. Whittaker is one of the most experienced high level competitors in MMA today. He has been considered to be right at the top of the 185-pound weight class ever since 2017 when he became the interim champion […]

Continue Reading Robert Whittaker Backs Teammate To Climb Into UFC Middleweight Top 10: ‘I’m The Best In The World & He Gives Me Trouble’ (Exclusive) at MMA News.

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker expects his division’s title picture to soon have another Australian making waves.

Whittaker is one of the most experienced high level competitors in MMA today. He has been considered to be right at the top of the 185-pound weight class ever since 2017 when he became the interim champion by defeating Yoel Romero at UFC 213, and he’s still in the title picture to this day.

With that in mind, “The Reaper” is an excellent judge of whether fighters have what it takes to swim with the sharks. In his opinion, one of his close teammates and training partners is just waiting for the opportunity to live up to his potential…

Robert Whittaker Says Teammate Jacob Malkoun Has What It Takes To Fight The Best In The World

Speaking in an interview with MMA News, Whittaker was asked to name some of the fighters he will always tune in to watch as a fan favorite himself.

“Well, my teammate, Jacob Malkoun, he’s certainly one that I watch, obviously. But I think that he’s still flying under the radar,” Whittaker said. “I think he had a couple unfortunate weird losses but he’s back in that winning column now and he’s a guy that could fight someone in the top 10 tomorrow I think and like, handedly get his hand raised.”

The 28-year old Malkoun has had an up and down run so far in the UFC since debuting back at UFC 254 in 2020 with just four professional fights under his belt.

He has since secured four wins in seven outings, the latest of which came in March when he stopped Andre Petroski in one of the most unique endings to a fight in some time.

Whittaker believes that his teammate is more than equipped to compete at the top level of the division and hopes that he will get his opportunity to prove that in the near future.

“I think Jacob will beat a lot of people. Like, I cannot stress enough how much trouble he gives me in the gym and I think I’m the best in the world,” Whittaker continued. “He gives me trouble every single day, so the world’s his oyster. I want to see him get a top 10 fight and just cement that.”

Continue Reading Robert Whittaker Backs Teammate To Climb Into UFC Middleweight Top 10: ‘I’m The Best In The World & He Gives Me Trouble’ (Exclusive) at MMA News.

Israel Adesanya Has Kind Words For Robert Whittaker After His Big Win Over Ikram Aliskerov: ‘Robbie’s That Guy!’

During a recent appearance on the Today Show Australia, Israel Adesanya took the moment to congratulate a former opponent on his recent victory. Robert Whittaker produced back-to-back wins when he stopped Ikram Aliskerov in the late-notice main event of UFC Fight Night Saudi Arabia on June 22. “The Reaper” is now back into the title […]

Continue Reading Israel Adesanya Has Kind Words For Robert Whittaker After His Big Win Over Ikram Aliskerov: ‘Robbie’s That Guy!’ at MMA News.

During a recent appearance on the Today Show Australia, Israel Adesanya took the moment to congratulate a former opponent on his recent victory.

Robert Whittaker produced back-to-back wins when he stopped Ikram Aliskerov in the late-notice main event of UFC Fight Night Saudi Arabia on June 22.

“The Reaper” is now back into the title picture after getting Aliskerov out of there in the first round to build on his decision victory against Paulo Costa at UFC 298 this past February.

Adesanya and Whittaker have met two times inside the Octagon, with “The Last Stylebender” coming out on top on both occasions.

While reacting to footage of his iconic UFC 243 walkout in Melbourne, the Nigerian-New Zealander took a second to praise his Australian peer.

“I was fighting the local hero, Rob Whittaker, who just actually had a great win a week or two weeks ago, but I was fighting him here.

“It was beautiful. Robbie’s that guy. We fought twice. We always have history but it was good to see him back in the win column, and he’s coming for me, so I got to stay ready.”

Israel Adesanya Says Dricus Du Plessis Feud Is About Respecting ‘The Guys Who Came Before You’

If Adesanya’s fight with Whittaker — which pitted Australia and New Zealand up against one another — was a big deal, it has nothing on the grudge match that is on deck for UFC 305.

“The Last Stylebender” is set to finally go up against the current middleweight world champion, South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis, and it’s safe to say that they don’t see eye-to-eye.

Much of the tension between them stems from comments made by Du Plessis about how him winning the middleweight title and bringing it back to Africa would make him the first true African champion because he still lives and trains out of the continent.

Adesanya spoke about this during his recent TV appearance, stating that the lack of respect being shown to the people that came before the current champion is where he feels his next opponent crossed the line.

“For me, it’s you have to honor the guys who came before you. He’s the guy saying, ‘I’m the real African champion,’ but look, you wouldn’t have been able to do what you’re doing at home in South Africa if myself, Francis Ngannou, and Kamaru (Usman) didn’t pave the way for you. So you have to respect your elders and I’ll make sure I do that to him.”

Du Plessis and Adesanya will headline the UFC 305 pay-per-view event in Perth, Australia, on August 17. The bout comes almost a year on from the latter’s most recent appearance, an upset loss to Sean Strickland in Sydney.

Continue Reading Israel Adesanya Has Kind Words For Robert Whittaker After His Big Win Over Ikram Aliskerov: ‘Robbie’s That Guy!’ at MMA News.

Ex-UFC champion Sean Strickland shuts down talks of a fight with Robert Whittaker: ‘He doesn’t deserve it’

Ex-UFC champion Sean Strickland shuts down talks of a fight with Robert Whittaker: 'He doesn't deserve it'Sean Strickland is not fighting Robert Whittaker. After ‘The Reaper’ scored a quick finish over replacement opponent Ikram Aliskerov…

Ex-UFC champion Sean Strickland shuts down talks of a fight with Robert Whittaker: 'He doesn't deserve it'

Sean Strickland is not fighting Robert Whittaker.

After ‘The Reaper’ scored a quick finish over replacement opponent Ikram Aliskerov at UFC Saudi Arabia, fight fans immediately clamored for a No. 1 contenders battle between the No. 3 ranked Whittaker and the top-ranked Strickland with the winner moving on to face the winner of UFC 305’s middleweight title clash between defending champion Dricus Du Plessis and two-time titleholder Israel Adesanya.

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According to Sean Strickland, that ain’t happening.

“Aint’ happening. I’ll say no,” Strickland told MMA Crazy during an interview at UFC X in Las Vegas. “Whittaker, he don’t deserve it. I’m next in line for a title shot. I’m the number one contender, it ain’t happening. I beat Izzy, I beat Dricus [Du Plessis]. I got f*cked in Canada. It ain’t f*cking happening.”

In September, Strickland shocked the world with a dominant five-round performance against Israel Adesanya to take the middleweight crown. Unfortunately, Strickland’s reign would only last a few months.

In January, he surrendered the strap to ‘Stillknocks’ in what many believe to be a controversial split decision.

Sean Strickland vs. Du Plessis

Sean Strickland has no interest in being a backup for Du Plessis vs. Adesanya

Strickland lobbied for an immediate rematch, but it became clear that he would have to go out and prove himself once again before getting a shot at redemption. He did exactly that at UFC 302, besting perennial contender Paulo Costa to solidify his spot as the next man in line.

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Asked about potentially serving as a backup for the Du Plessis vs. Adesanya headliner in Perth on August 17, ‘Tarzan’ dismissed that possibility, calling it a “bullsh*t position” and once again reiterating his desire to wait.

“Backup is kind of a bullsh*t position. They can have anybody as a backup, it don’t f*cking matter. I’ll wait. If it ain’t for gold, I ain’t doing it.”

Check out the full interview below: