In all combat sports, like MMA, Boxing and Wrestling, people try to cut weight before they fight. Weight Cutting exists in order to take away the variable that one fighter was much bigger than his opponent.
People either the day of – or the day before – their fight will have to weigh in at a specific weight if they want to be able to compete. Missing their weight cut will lead to punishment; such as cancelling the fight. Due to the fact that fighters only get paid when they fight, missing weight can cause both fighters to lose their pay. Missing Weight is seen as one of the most frowned upon things an MMA fighter can do.
How do Fighters cut weight?
Fighters do this by dehydrating themselves a couple of days before fight night. They will lose all the water weight they have in their body and hopefully be able to make weight. This weight cut can greatly affect a fighters performance, and cutting too much weight can cause a fight to have worse endurance, or even have a weaker chin; meaning they can not take as much damage.
There are many occasions of fighters who do not have success in one division and decide to try and test their luck in a higher or lower weight class. Fighters like “The BMF”, and Jorge Masvidal, used to compete at Lightweight, 155 lbs, and are now competing at Welterweight, 170 lbs. Fighters may not have enough time to cut weight so they decide to fight at a higher weight class; as this is what happened in McGregor vs. Diaz – I.
On January 18 of this year, Conor McGregor came back into the octagon with a flawless performance against all time great ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. This 40 second KO took place at Welterweight, although both fighters are considered to be Lightweights.
This fight even caused McGregor to move up on the Lightweight rankings, even though the fight did not take place in that division. McGregor’s impact on MMA is so large that it does give him the right to do as he pleases, so I am not sure if Dana White will allow other fighters to move up the rankings of a division even if they did not fight in that division.
McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, recently stated that the ideal fight for McGregor would be against Justin Gaethje at 170 lbs. Gaethje and McGregor are both top ranked Lightweights and would likely be fighting for the next shot at the Lightweight belt after Khabib faces against Tony Ferguson for the strap. This made me think that maybe weight cutting could be done in the UFC if it is obviously not something McGregor wants to do, then other fighters must not like it.
How could the UFC end the Weight Cut?
They would have to follow the Singapore Based, One Fighting Championship. One FC has weight classes which are greater than that of the UFC’s, so Lightweight Fights in One FC take place at 170 lbs, instead 155 lbs.
You might be asking, wouldn’t this not make a difference because fighters always want an advantage and will still be cutting weight?
Well that could happen, but what I believe would work is Hydration Testing, which they use in One FC. Fighters will be tested to make sure that they are not cutting too much weight, and are staying hydrated. By failing a hydration test you will have the same punishments given to fighter who miss weight in the UFC.
Fighters of the past in the UFC have had success without cutting weight. For example, Frankie Edgar was able to become the Lightweight champ by not cutting any weight. Today, Edgar is going to try and fight 20 pound less than he held the belt at.
Cutting weight drains the fighter both mentally and physically, and I believe it is a health hazard. The fear fighters have of missing weight will also cause them to start making dumb decisions in order to make this weight, such as taking PEDs.
Dana White has not suggested changing the weight class system of the UFC and I don’t see him doing it anytime soon. Not allowing the fighters to cut weight will allow fighters to perform better, making MMA even more exciting.