MMA Analysis: A Closer Look at "Smaller" UFC Champions

Never look at someone in a fight and think: “I can take them, they are smaller than me.”

Many times, people will assume that a person smaller in stature will be beaten; not the case. Technique and skill will always overcome size and strength. In the words of Bruce Lee, “be like water; water is the softest stuff in the world but it can penetrate rock.” Three of the top fighters in the world today have penetrated the strongholds of their respective divisions to drown the competition with their ability, technique and dedication at remaining champions and becoming some of the greatest fighters to enter the octagon.

Hailing from the working class area of Tom’s River, NJ, current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar has defied the expectations of fans, critics, opponents and Dana White. When given the chance to fight Penn in Abu Dhabi, many thought it would be a stellar performance for the Hilo native to enter a new venue and defend his belt again. “The Truth” was told with Edgar claiming the belt and then defeating Penn again in an immediate rematch in Boston, silencing the critics more. Fighting the only man to beat him (Gray Maynard) to a draw in his second title defense had nay-sayers speaking ill of him, stating the champion was a fluke and would be exposed in the end; UFC 136 shut the world up along with Maynard, who suffered his first loss via TKO from Edgar.

As he is finding his stride and continuing to improve in all aspects of training to become a complete mixed martial artist, future competitors should be aware to not sell this man short any longer. The wins he has delivered over quality opponents (before and during championship) showcase his desire to become the best and hold the belt for as long as he can.

Scarface is one of the most prolific movies of its time and left people in awe after they watched it and discussions among friends still holds its presence today. Step into the octagon with a Brazilian with the same nickname and you have a new reason to be in awe, Jose Aldo. At only twenty-five years old, the current UFC featherweight champion has disposed of many men along his path to gold. Among the fallen are former WEC featherweight champion(s) Urijah Faber and Mike Brown. Not to be discredited in their attempts but strong fighters like Mark Hominick, Cub Swanson and others all fell to the Black House star. Tasting defeat only once in 2005, this superstar has shown no sign of slowing down and continuing to dominate the 145 lbs. division. His athleticism, speed and ability to end the fight standing or on the ground allows him to stay king for now. Many have said that fighting a competitor stepping down from lightweight would present problems for Aldo, but as he displayed with his recent win over Kenny Florian, this is not the case when dealing with such a talented individual.

The current season of UFC’s Ultimate Fighter is showcasing true talent with the featherweight division but are any of them the man to beat Aldo? Winning the show will not secure you a title shot immediately but perhaps there is a contestant that will one day rise to the challenge and be one of the few TUF veterans to win a UFC championship.

Being defeated once in his career by a nemesis, Dominick Cruz used the submission he suffered from Urijah Faber in his first title fight (WEC 48 – March 2007) and turned himself into one of the best mixed martial artists competing today. Unorthodox striking, footwork and superb cardio have allowed the Alliance MMA star to defeat many opponents in his path to the UFC bantamweight championship. Avenging his sole loss in July of this year, Cruz truly lived to his moniker and dominated Faber for five rounds; additionally, he defeated the next man (Demetrius Johnson) earlier this month in his second UFC title defense. Currently rehabilitating from hand surgery, 2012 looks to pick up where the Arizona native left off, winning fights and puzzling opponents with his style.

While other fighters have remained champions and defended their belt in their classes (WW – GSP; MW – A. Silva) the smaller weight classes have consistently delivered explosive fights, nonstop action and the champions are able to dispatch threats in numerous fashions.

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