Diego Nunes gassed hard in the second and third rounds of his fight against Kenny Florian last night. There are a number of possible explanations for this: first, Nunes threw a lot of heavy shots in the first round; second, grappling against a high-level guy like Florian wore him down; or finally, the bout's frenetic early pace simply drained him. These are all likely, and are not mutually exclusive. But the similarity between his late performance and that of his teammate Jose Aldo against Mark Hominick was striking, and another line of thought occurred to me: what if their stamina drain was due to the consequences of aging, specifically the fact that both have put on significantly more muscle over the course of their careers?
Both Aldo and Nunes are relatively young fighters (24 and 28, respectively) who have spoken publicly about the fact that they often didn't have enough to eat while growing up. Now that they're reaching their athletic peaks in their mid-to-late 20s, the combination of proper nutrition, supplements, and weight training has transformed their bodies: both are noticeably bigger than they were early in their careers, and yet they're still fighting at featherweight. This entails a tougher cut for both men, and thus increases the likelihood of stamina issues.
So what does this mean? As more and more high-level athletes begin training in MMA early in life, rather than after successful careers in other combat sports, we may begin to see more fighters moving up in weight, rather than down; Rory MacDonald, Jon Jones, and obviously Aldo come to mind. What do you all think?