No Such Thing As An Opinion!

"Weight classes" for the arm length of UFC fighters?


I watched UFC 126 recently.  Did anyone see the Jon Jones-Ryan Bader fight?  Jon Jones' reach is 84.5 inches84.5 inches!  That's astonishing!  It's uncommon to see MMA fighters with a reach above 77" or 78", including the heavyweights!  Jones' reach is greater than that of the 6'11" fighter Stefan Struve!

It got me thinking.  Is it
fair to pit Jon Jones against a guy like Ryan Bader, who has only a 74" reach?

I'm sure many people would say sure, it's fair.  Arm length is one of the factors that makes an athlete simply better than other athletes, is it not? 


But is that type of thinking consistent with the athletic separations that already occur?


1) We already separate athletes by sex.  And why is that?  Because men have a natural strength advantage, and perhaps reflexive advantages, so it wouldn't be fair to pit men against women.

2) We already separate athletes by weight class.  In fact, one of the obstacles to widespread regulatory acceptance of the UFC in its early days was the lack of weight classes.


And why do we separate by weight class? Because it's unfair to compete against a larger athlete, right?  But
why is it unfair?  Well, the larger athletes tend to be stronger.

So, when you think about the fact there have been separations based both on sex and weight, it appears that regulators are trying to eliminate what they deem to be inherent unfair advantages (like strength and reflexes) while attempting to allow
skill to be more of the deciding factor in the outcome of a bout.

So, if the intention is to promote the role of skill in determining the outcome of a bout, why wouldn't one also eliminate advantage from arm length?  After all, one's arm reach isn't a
skill.  It's an advantage! And a huge one at that!

Now, I'm not saying that they definitely
should group athletes in classes according to arm length.  I think there are a couple of potential problems with going that route.  People like Jon Jones would have only one or two people that he could be matched up with.  But the question should be: Is that negative (the lack of bouts for people like him) outweighed by the increased level of fairness that would occur in the bouts of other fighters?

Another potential problem: Would people
want to see matches grouped according to arm length? I just don't think there are enough elite fighters to put together enough interesting matches.

Most importantly, you would end up having many different classes and champions!  At one point, people simply want to know who's the best, without diluting the athletes into too many classes.  The ideal solution is to find the proper balance between fairness and dilution, I suppose.


But the theme of my argument still stands.


And if you
really wanted to separate athletes according to inherent levels of strength and reflexes, why not have different leagues for whites, blacks and asians?  After all, blacks clearly dominate in many reflexive and strength related sports (like sprinting and football), while asians clearly dominate in many visual spatial sports (like diving and swimming).

Again, such divisions would probably be going farther than people would like to see.  Too much dilution. People would want to know who the
best athletes are, overall, regardless of race.

That's fine.  But just remember, when you match people up and disregard their arm length and their race (and any other inherent, easily identifiable advantages), you could argue it's unfair to do so!



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