Below is Fighters.com’s inaugural Super Heavyweight Rankings, a listing of the top five mixed martial artists over 265 pounds. But! I’m not at all happy with this list, and disappointed in MMA’s big boys.
Let’s be brutally straight. The 185-pound Japanese eccentric, “Minowaman” Ikuhisa Minowa (40-28-8), who regularly meets’n'beats super heavyweights, is as worthy of the top slot as Fighters.com’s first Super Heavyweight Champion “Giant” Jan Nortje (2-6), and I’m not sure a “Minowaman” rolling kneebar wouldn’t clear out the entire top five.
But, I attempted to rank the division according to the same guidelines used to rank the mainstream weight classes, taking into account only their records from the previous two years and only in fights versus other super heavyweight fighters. That excludes “Minowaman” and most of the fights on these behemoths’ records. Quite simply, the division is a joke because super heavyweights rarely fight other super heavyweights. They’re often either matched-up versus a heavyweight or relegated to spectacles versus much smaller opponents.
Super heavyweights must start picking on fighters their own size to legitimize this division.
Fighters.com realizes that’s easier said than done and not entirely these fighters’ faults. Promoters often choose opponents for super heavyweights, and often times the spectacle of a 185-pound fighter versus a 330-pound fighter puts more asses in seats than what’s sure to be a sluggish contest between two 330-pound fighters. But, if a promotion wanted to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors, establishing a legitimate super heavyweight class and offering a belt to challenge for would create buzz among the core MMA audience.
If you’re like me, for most of our history watching this sport, part of the allure was that it was outside of the mainstream. You had to work to be an MMA fan until circa 2005. You had to scour the Internet for fight videos and often only found fellow fans in message boards. Fighters became legends before you ever saw them fight. You’d hear whispers on message boards of someone blowing out established fighters in Japan or Iowa and might only actually see them months later when video of the latest UFC event finally made it to your video store. If you’re nostalgic for those times, the super heavyweight division is the last frontier of MMA. This is the division for you.
Admittedly, the +265 talent pool is thin. But, offering a legitimate super heavyweight belt would attract some of the heavyweight division’s heavier fighters to compete for it, drawing talent up to the division. The competition would improve everyone in the division, as the same legitimization process has improved the level of talent and athleticism throughout MMA.
Fighters.com considers these rankings a work in progress and encourages you to post suggestions. Remember the ranking rules: Only consider a fighter’s record for the previous two years and only versus fellow super heavyweights.
Fighters.com’s November Super Heavyweight Rankings
1. “Giant” Jan Nortje (2-6)
2. “Dominator” Bobby Lashley (4-0)
3. “Guigao” (3-0)
4. “Mondragon” Geronimo dos Santos (3-1)
5. “Titan” Jimmy Ambriz (14-8)