Nowadays, superfights are extremely common. It’s almost like Conor McGregor has sparked a flame that has just grown bigger and bigger. Ever since McGregor fought Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016, we have heard about countless rumors of superfights.
A showdown between bantamweight T.J. Dillashaw and top flyweight Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was discussed ad nauseam. Stipe Miocic fought Daniel Cormier in a huge superfight in July. Now that Henry Cejudo is the new flyweight champion, he is calling for his own fight against Dillashaw, the UFC’s reigning bantamweight king. These are only the examples that stand out the most. There were also rumors that paired UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley with Michael Bisping and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, the UFC’s top 145-pound woman, against 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes — the latter fight is likely going to happen, too.
We have to remember, though, that just because the bout pits a champion against another champion, this does not make it a superfight.In order to be considered a superfight it must 1) draw attention because of the differences in weight, and 2) be a fight between two men who represent their weight class as best as possible.
For example, McGregor’s fight with Alvarez wasn’t really a true superfight, because McGregor was not a true featherweight going up to the lightweight division — the Irishman’s true weight class is 155 pounds. McGregor has never missed weight at featherweight, but this is not where he looks the best. Also, do not forget the fight with Alvarez came immediately after McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz, which took place at welterweight. McGregor was far from being an outsized featherweight against Alvarez. The visuals on fight night proved it. McGregor was clearly the bigger man and enjoyed a distinctively larger reach.
The battle between Miocic and Cormier at UFC 226 isn’t a true superfight, either. Once again, this might look like a superfight purely because Cormier was the light heavyweight champion and Miocic was the heavyweight champion. However, Cormier has competed at heavyweight before. Some fans would even argue that Cormier was better as a heavyweight. He ran through giants like Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Roy Nelson, and took care of business easily against smaller men like Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva. What more needs to be said when Cormier weighed in heavier than the heavyweight champion himself? Miocic by no means is a large heavyweight, but he is certainly not a small one, either. Cormier topped Miocic at the scale, and not by a little, either.
This brings us to Gegard Mousasi and Rory MacDonald. Their Bellator 206 fight was different. Despite how this might sound contradictory coming from a writer who argued that weight was not the primary factor in Mousasi’s win, hear me out.
MacDonald never fought at middleweight before. He is not a massive welterweight, either. Mousasi, on the other hand, is a legitimate middleweight. Mousasi has a relatively large frame for the division and previously competed at the light heavyweight and heavyweight levels.
This was truly a case of a smaller man — MacDonald — moving up a weight division to face a bigger man in Mousasi. In order to accomplish such a tall task, MacDonald had to rely on his skills, which fell short on this particular night. However, what made this a true superfight is that it checked off both of the aforementioned requirements.
This fight drew a lot of attention, for sure, and was at the top of an event that was labeled by many as the best fight card in Bellator history. Some may say that the card was under-promoted by Bellator, which is a good argument to make, but anyone who follows the sport knew about this fight.
You cannot find better representatives for their weight classes than Mousasi and MacDonald, too. Mousasi was riding a menacing five-fight winning streak in the UFC when he decided to make the move to Bellator. In that span, he defeated some of the best the world has to offer. Meanwhile, MacDonald has been at the top of the game since he was in his early twenties. The Canadian athlete has beaten the best of the best in the welterweight division.
The size difference between Mousasi and MacDonald was obvious on fight night. It was seen in both plain view and in the grappling exchanges. This still doesn’t mean size was the major factor in Mousasi’s win, though. Mousasi out-skilled MacDonald, at least on this particular night. What the size difference and the attention given to this particular fight serve to signify is the bout’s nature as a true superfight.