You were right to speak out against the KKK in your Feb. 18 editorial.You were right to support the Feb. 14 vigil in Saratoga Springs that publicly denounced the hateful messages of the KKK.But you seem to have missed the point of holding that vigil on Valentine’s Day, which celebrates the spirit of love.Instead, you recommend responding to KKK hatred with more hatred: “Stomp them into the dirt.”KKK bigots are already in the dirt, having dug themselves in with irrational fear and hatred. A loving response would be to help lift them out of the dirt, to show them there is no reason to fear and no one who deserves their hate.Acknowledging the essential humanity even of our enemies is the first step toward building the “beloved community” to which Martin Luther King Jr. and other prophets of social justice have pointed.No human being belongs in the dirt.Terry DiggorySaratoga SpringsThe writer is one of the coordinators of the Saratoga Immigration Coalition.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion
There are a few comparable names at lightweight — guys like Don Madge, Nasrat Haqparast or Arman Tsarukyan — but the majority of the population in the 155-pound ranks consists of veterans with long track records and limited upside.Having a robust collection of those athletes is important and no one should ever not be interested in watching Dan Hooker, Gilbert Burns or others of their ilk compete, however having a large group that has all traded wins and losses amongst themselves with few, if any, being able to break through into the upper tier sets the lightweight ranks behind its featherweight counterparts in the divisional hierarchy at the moment.That doesn’t mean lightweight is any less exciting or consistently entertaining, it just means the featherweight ranks are the best in the UFC right now and will stay that way until the next weight class rises up to challenge for the top spot. But over the last couple years, the featherweight division has started to close the gap on the weight class above it in terms of being the most competitive ensemble in the UFC. While lightweight still boasts greater numbers and the more robust middle class, the current makeup of the featherweight division stands as the most entertaining and interesting division in the UFC and that will only become more apparent in the next couple years.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearLightweight certainly boasts the greater collection of recognizable, bankable names at the top of the division, where Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier, and Tony Ferguson make up a triumvirate of championship talent with Conor McGregor permanently hovering over the situation, but it’s not like that group significantly out-paces the pack that resides atop the featherweight ranks.Champion Max Holloway has won 13 straight within the division and recently went toe-to-toe with Poirier in a battle for the interim lightweight title, while the man he’ll face in the main event of UFC 240 next month in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Frankie Edgar, is a former lightweight champion himself, as well as a two-time featherweight title challenger and one of the best to ever compete in the lighter weight classes.Jose Aldo remains the greatest featherweight of all time and the standard-bearer for what a dominant champion looks like in the 145-pound weight division, having successfully defended the title seven times during the first of his two title reigns.Earlier this year, Alexander Volkanovski joined an exclusive group by defeating Aldo, venturing to Rio de Janeiro and sweeping the scorecards against the Brazilian superstar. The only other men to best Aldo inside the Octagon are Holloway, who did it twice in 2017, and McGregor, who was catapulted to a new level of stardom following his dogged pursuit and thrilling knockout of the Nova Uniao product at UFC 194.While that four-pack of fighters likely falls shy of measuring up to the quartet stationed at the top of the lightweight rankings, one of the pieces that gives featherweight the edge in this theoretical battle is the presence of Brian Ortega as a fifth member of the division’s upper crust.The Californian’s only loss to date came last time out in his bid to wrestle the title away from Holloway. Before that, he’d earned six straight stoppage wins over a mix of contenders, divisional fixtures and tough, veteran talents who make their living turning back would-be hopefuls.Age plays a roll in this reshuffling of the divisions in the hierarchy as well, as both Holloway and Ortega are still a couple years away from turning 30 and while Volkanovski will turn 31 in September, he logged fewer miles than say Poirier, who is also approaching his 31st birthday, but has been competing in the UFC the better part of the last decade.Aldo is a battle-hardened 32 and not likely to stick around for much too longer and Edgar is defying convention by remaining a legitimate title contender as he moves towards age 38, however it’s not like the lightweight elite is made up of a bunch of young bucks just entering the formative years of their careers.Nurmagomedov turns 31 nine days before Volkanovski, but he’s already planning his exit strategy, while Ferguson turned 35 in February and has trouble staying healthy. Although he’s continued winning despite various setbacks, surgical procedures and personal matters outside of the cage, it’s fair to wonder how long “El Cucuy” can continue competing at this level and in the entertaining fashion he does as he inches towards 40.For the record, McGregor turns 31 in a month’s time, but his age is less of a consideration than his status as an active fighter. While he remains the most marketable and recognizable fighter in the sport, he’s only stepped into the Octagon once since becoming the first “Champ-Champ,” so even including him on the active lightweight roster feels a bit forced.But the thing that really differentiates featherweight from lightweight at the moment and heading into the future is the wealth of new names and fresh talent working its way up the ranks.While lightweight is flush with established fighters, it’s a little thin in terms of an emerging class ascending the divisional ladder and putting pressure on the known commodities that make up the Top 15. That established group is excellent — Justin Gaethje, Donald Cerrone, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza — but there currently aren’t any new names who have proven themselves against the veteran class that really get you excited the way there are in the featherweight division.Gregor Gillespie looks like the real deal, but he’s been out of action since January and has yet to face a Top 15 fighter. Alexander Hernandez got taken down a peg earlier this year when he was hustled into a bout with Cerrone a little too soon. Islam Makhachev could be the heir to Nurmagomedov’s throne, but he too has built up a solid winning streak against solid, but unspectacular competition.Beyond that, the brightest young stars in the division are Contender Series grads Roosevelt Roberts and Devonte Smith, both of who have been impressive thus far, but are still working towards matchups against middle class opponents, yet alone ranked fighters.Conversely, featherweight has fighters like Zabit Magomedsharipov, Calvin Kattar, Mirsad Bektic, Yair Rodriguez and Shane Burgos who have beaten tenured talent to force their way into the Top 15 and there are a host of additional upstarts looking to follow the same path they’ve taken into contention over the next year or two.Where fighters like Grant Dawson and Sodiq Yusuff fit the same description as Roberts and Smith at lightweight, featherweight also boasts athletes like Arnold Allen, who is undefeated in the Octagon and younger than Makhachev, but missing a number beside his name and the residual shine that comes from training with a current UFC champion.The 25-year-old from Felixstowe is scheduled to face Gilbert Melendez next month at UFC 239 and if he emerges victorious, thereby pushing his winning streak to six in the UFC and eight overall, he still might not crack the Top 15 because featherweight is just that competitive at the moment.In addition to Allen, there are others like Bryce Mitchell and Mosvar Evloev and Hakeem Dawodu who all show promise, plus wild cards like Kron Gracie, Makwan Amirkhani, Mike Grundy and Kevin Aguilar whose ceilings have yet to be determined and could continue to make a push towards the rankings in the next 24 months. Featherweight is the new lightweight.For years, the 155-pound ranks were universally regarded as the deepest collection of talent in the UFC — a division replete with top names and tough outs where landing in the Top 15 stood as a major achievement and took more than a handful of wins against middle-tier competition.