Does MMA need a cruiserweight division?

Bigger, faster, stronger: Brock Lesnar sizes up favorably against every heavyweight he faces. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

In the months leading to their UFC heavyweight showdown, Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar answered hundreds of questions. The issue that dominated every interview session, however, was their weight differential.

By all standards, Couture is a relatively small heavyweight. He often steps into the cage weighing around 230 pounds, which is heavy for him -- Couture competed in the 205-pound weight class for years.

Before the bout, Couture said repeatedly that his goal was to weigh in at 225 pounds. During the weigh-in, however, he surprised everyone by tipping the scales at just 220 pounds.

Couture's weight, though less than many had anticipated, was only half the suspense. Much of the attention was centered on Lesnar and his size.

Lesnar is a massive man. He walks around at 285 pounds on a good day. He weighed in for his fight with Couture at 265 pounds, the mandatory UFC limit, then began rehydrating by sitting down to a steak dinner.

There was little question that on the night of Nov. 15, Lesnar would outweigh Couture by at least 50 pounds. That size differential played itself out as Lesnar stopped Couture in Round 2 to claim the UFC title in just his fourth MMA bout.

As mixed martial arts continues to evolve, its heavyweights do as well. Many are bigger, stronger and more athletic than ever.

Lesnar has become the prototype of this growing class of heavyweights. Its presence will only make it more difficult for the Coutures of the world to reach the top.

A significant number of heavyweights currently tip the scales comfortably around 225 to 235 pounds. These are large men, but against Lesnar or even Shane Carwin, they'd find themselves at distinct size disadvantages.

The time might be ripe for a cruiserweight division in MMA. It is a problem boxing has already addressed.

All four major sanctioning organizations in that sport now have a cruiserweight division. But while the size difference between light heavyweights and heavyweights becomes more pronounced, mixed martial arts organizations aren't rushing to create a go-between division.

"I don't compare boxing with mixed martial arts, but certainly, the heavyweights in boxing have always been 200 [pounds] and you can weigh 400," UFC vice president of Government and Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner told ESPN.com. "At least here we have a stopping point at 265. So I don't know if it will happen.

"These fighters are getting bigger, there is no question about it. But there's very few guys who are going to fight less than 220 against a guy who weighs 265, that's for sure. You will see a lot of guys in the 230s or 240s."

It is likely that most fighters who step into the cage weighing between 220 and 230 pounds can't cut to 205 pounds. They have two choices: compete at heavyweight or find another line of work.

Fighters that small are capable of defeating a giant like Lesnar, but the odds would be long. In no other weight class are fighters required to overcome such odds. It doesn't seem fair.

Affliction MMA vice president Tom Atencio agrees, but like Ratner, he believes more examination is needed before a cruiserweight division can be implemented.

"As of right now I don't know how much of a need there is for it, but Lesnar is a giant," Atencio told ESPN.com. "Not only is he a giant, but he is incredibly fast for how big he is.

"You are not going to find guys his size who are going to be that fast. Not to mention, the guy is also a D-I wrestler. To come from that, you put all of that together -- yeah, there is a huge disadvantage when he is fighting somebody 235 and he is 270 pounds."

While neither Ratner nor Atencio would commit to a cruiserweight division at this time, each expects the subject will remain a topic of discussion.

"In general, we are always looking at the Unified Rules and different ways to make the sport better," Ratner said. "Is it a possibility? It certainly could happen.

"I think it may be a little premature, but is it a possibility in the future? Sure. Everything is always on the table. … From our standpoint, the weight classes are fine."

Said Atencio: "I'd like to think that I am open-minded to everything. … I think there needs to be some clear-cut lines between everything to make it a bit more fair. I don't care what anybody says, weight is a factor."

Franklin McNeil covers boxing and mixed martial arts for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.