It's long been known that the smaller weight class fighters are generally more technical. They're better wrestlers, better kickboxers, and better grapplers, at least from a pure technique stanpoint. But, Josh Thomson is taking his rhetoric a step further in suggesting that fighters in the higher weight classes aren't even really competing as mixed martial artists. It came up in this interview with Fox Sports, where talk about judges decisions, and the necessity to fight for the finish, turned toward a talk about appreciating the technical game, and the fact (as Thomson sees it) that the bigger fighters just don't have it.
"This is what I say -- when you go up in weight, you should be saying it to those guys. Because those guys all have weaknesses. You hit 185, 205, and heavyweight, those guys are always just good at like one thing, two things, but they're not great all the way around. There's ways to finish them. So if you're a well-rounded athlete, you can finish those guys. You can find ways to finish those guys," Thomson explained.
"With 55-pounders and below, good luck, man. Everybody's good all around -- they're good wrestlers, they're good jiu-jitsu guys, they're good standup guys, they're game to throw down and they're always in shape. 170 is kind of like the limbo -- like there's some well-rounded guys in there. GSP was the champion so long because he was the most well-rounded and usually in the best shape. But that's kind of like the whole new guy -- that's why Rory MacDonald does well. He's in shape, he's got pretty good jiu-jitsu, he's hard to take down but he's got good standup. He's well-rounded with good shape. Those are the guys that are hard to beat."
"You start getting in the 185's, 205, heavyweight, they start being one-dimensional, two-dimensional fighters. They're not mixed martial artists. They're not as good as the 55-pounders and below," Thomson said. "They're just not. To me that's just a fact."
There are some good points there, especially his eventual conclusion that it's just tougher to get finishes against more well rounded opponents in lighter weight classes. It also helps that, across his career, Thomson has been a pretty quality finisher himself, with 14 of his 20 wins coming by knockout or submission. Still, Thomson's also a fighter who's been on the wrong end of a lot of close decisions, and it's hard not to hear that undertone in his criticism of "fighting for the finish" and of bigger fighters and whether or not they compete in all dimensions.