Elevation, Heavyweights a Bad Combination

By: Jason Probst
Sep 29, 2011
In the two heavyweight bouts at UFC 135 on Saturday in Denver, the action often looked like an underwater brawl in the Mile High City.

In MMA, the relationship between size and stamina is a decidedly inverse one, especially when comparing weight classes as a whole. It’s hard to name a single Top 10 lightweight who doesn’t have excellent stamina, but among the equivalent cohort of heavyweights, it’s considered a standout trait for a big man to have proven stamina; if for no other reason than we are surprised when he can maintain the pace with which he opens the first round.

Denver’s altitude cannot have helped any of the competitors in the Mark Hunt-Ben Rothwell and Travis Browne-Rob Broughton bouts, both of which evidenced visible fatigue by all involved. After his decision win over Broughton, Browne didn’t use the altitude as an excuse for his deceleration, but it had to have been a factor, as Browne showed a much better gas tank in his draw with Cheick Kongo at UFC 120.

Rothwell and Hunt were similarly plagued in what was an exciting fight, but it was largely defined by Hunt’s half-life of stamina being slightly longer than that of Rothwell, who looked like he was halfway to a heart attack over the final minutes.

I’m not saying the heavies should never, ever be used at altitude, but it does give some second thought to the matchmaking involved for future events.

Jason Probst can be reached at Jason@jasonprobst.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.

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