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The Weight-Cutting Chronicles – UFC 219’s Nurmagomedov and Cyborg

With Cris Cyborg in the main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov in the co-main-event, can UFC 219 go off without a hitch?

Intro to Weight Cutting Chronicles

Like it or not weight cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight‘ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25lbs, with some fighters even in excess of 30lbs. Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and will power. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, I am going to shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming matchups. Basically every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game in the UFC.

Tabuena, A. (2016, March 5). UFC 196: Before and After: Conor McGregor at featherweight vs welterweight [Digital image]. Retrieved December 24, 2017, from

UFC Superstar Conor McGregor at different weight classes.

Weight Classes in the UFC

The UFC weight classes for men are: Flyweight (125lbs.), Bantamweight (135lbs.), Featherweight(145lbs.), Lightweight (155 lbs.), Welterweight (170 lbs.), Middleweight (185 lbs.), Light-Heavyweight (205lbs.) and Heavyweight (265 lbs.). The women on the other hand only have Strawweight (115lbs.), Bantamweight and have just recently added Featherweight and then Flyweight. Unlike boxing where there is a weight class pretty much every 5-7lbs, there is lot of weight in between some of the weight classes in MMA which makes cutting weight even more prominent. Some don’t think the UFC should have as many weight classes as boxing but the women definitely need more weight classes. One can even make the case that the men need even more weight classes. Keep in mind when this sport first started back in 1993, there were no weight classes at all, and the sport has came a long way since then.

Kowal, E. (2015, December 21). Emmanuel Yarborough vs Keith Hackeny at UFC 3 [Digital image]. Retrieved December 24, 2017, from

Emmanuel Yarborough vs Keith Hackney at UFC 3 in 1994


For a fighter it is absolutely devastating to miss weight. Not only are they looked down upon, but in the UFC they are fined 10-30% of their fight purse. This money goes to their opponent (the commission takes out a small percentage).  Also if they miss by enough weight their opponent can refuse to fight them, but this rarely happens. Performance of the Night bonuses are also not allowed to be given to fighters that miss weight. For example, Josh Emmett’s fantastic Knockout of the Year candidate against Ricardo Lamas at UFC Winnipeg, was completely nullified due to the fact that he had missed weight. Not only did he have to give up 30% of his purse but he also was excluded from the bonuses, which he definitely would have won if he made weight. This, in my opinion, is unfair. He was already penalized for missing and then he came out and put on a great performance. In my opinion, he earned the bonus.

To Cut Weight, or to Not Cut Weight

Weight cutting is obviously incredibly dangerous as fighters both diet and train extremely hard throughout training camp to bring down their body weight. Then at the end of camp, fighters lose the most amount of weight they can by draining all the water from their bodies.  Sweating in a hot tub, sauna, jogging or drilling in extra layers of clothing are the most commonly used ways to cut the water weight. A lot of times fighters miss weight because of not being with the right nutritionist or not being able to start their weight cut soon enough in the event they are a late-notice replacement. Stay ready so that you never have to get ready.

Many fighters have decided instead of to continue to cut weight to just fight at their natural weight class or at their “walk around” weight. Fighters like Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Conor McGregor, Kelvin Gastelum and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up closer to their natural weight class and actually have been able to find success, just to name a few. Moving up in weight can revive a fight career. It seems like the key for most fighters is to get into as small of a weight class as you can without going so low that you are unable recover by the next day and therefore hurting their performance.  “RDA” is a fighter that walks around close to 195 lbs.  out of training camp, and has just recently came up from lightweight to welterweight. He notched three wins off the bat most recently against former champion Robbie Lawler. RDA found that moving up to welterweight he became even faster than he was at lightweight. He was also able to boast a far  superior gas tank than his opponents, helping him push out an incredible amount of strikes, ultimately earning himself a lopsided unanimous-decision victory over Lawler and put himself in the welterweight title conversation.


Lets take a look at fighters who have been hindered by big weight cuts in the past and are looking to fight on the stacked UFC 219 end of the year card on December 30th.


John”Hands of Stone” Linekler

#5-ranked bantamweight John Lineker was set to take on #4-ranked Jimmie Rivera in what was sure to be an exciting fight. “Magic” Marlon Moraes brutally knocked out Aljamain Sterling on December 9th at UFC Fresno and put the entire bantamweight division on notice that he is for real. This would be an important fight as a win in spectacular fashion could get either of them in the conversation for a title shot.

It is no secret that Lineker has had trouble with making weight before. In the UFC, he has missed weight a total of five times. Four times at flyweight and one time even after he moved up to bantamweight. He has been in two fights since he missed weight at bantamweight in October, 2016.

Unfortunately Lineker had a bad tooth infection and is going to require emergency surgery. He was forced to pull out of the fight.

This is the fight game and anything can happen. A possible fill-in for Lineker could be #10-ranked Thomas Almedia who is already in camp for a UFC 220 matchup against Rob Font. The obvious choice remained Moraes. However, both sides were unable to agree on a catchweight and Rivera was ultimately pulled from the card.

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov

#2-ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is slated to battle #4-ranked Edson Barboza. Nurmagomedov has an extensive wrestling background and to go along with that, he cuts a massive amount of weight to make the 155lb. limit. He is rumored to walk around out of training camp at close to 200lbs. Nurmagomedov missed weight in 2013 against Abel Trujillo at UFC 160. He has also fought at a catch-weight of 160lbs. in April, 2016. On March 4, 2017 Nurmagomedov was scheduled to face Tony Ferguson but was scratched as he hospitalized from cutting too much weight during fight week.

Nurmagomedov simply can not afford to pull out from another fight due to injury, especially from a weight-cutting mishap. Many of the lightweight contenders would seriously question if he is able to even make the weight anymore. Especially with his flawless record (24-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC), it’d be a shame to put an asterisk by his name solely because he is inconsistent at actually being able to fight. The lightweight division is one of the most competitive divisions in the UFC and a spectacular win here could proper “The Eagle” into the “pound-for-pound” rankings.

Cris Cyborg

UFC Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg is going to defend her belt again against (#2 BW) Holly Holm in the main event. This is sure to be another match up as Holm looks to halt another seemingly invincible UFC title-holder.

It is well-documented that when Cyborg first came to the UFC, she had her eyes set on former UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. In some sort of weird game of cat and mouse, Rousey avoided Cyborg by stating that she had to make the 135lb. weight limit. Rousey would not go up in weight to fight and she knew that Cyborg would never be able to make 135lbs. Things have changed and now the UFC has the women’s featherweight division but it is still a big weight cut for the Brazilian. This featherweight division was practically built just for Cyborg and “Uncle Dana” might blow a fuse if Cyborg missed weight for this fight.


Cyborg has an 89% knockout ratio in her fights for a reason, she is huge and incredibly strong for the weight class. Some compare her to a prime Mike Tyson in the way that she strikes fear in the heart of opponents before they even step in the cage with her.

She looked the same size if not slightly bigger than lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov  about 10 days out from weigh-ins.

Here We Go

Keep an eye on all of these fighters during the end of the training camp and as they begin to cut the weight and especially on the morning of weigh-ins. Both Nurmagomedov (-285) and Cyborg (-360) are betting favorites. Expect these odds to change throughout the week as news regarding their weight cut surfaces. The last six fighters that have missed weight have all won. While the rest of us are at home enjoying our families and delicious food for the holidays, keep in mind the stark contrast of what these fighters are experiencing.


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North Carolina native and University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Former wrestler, and washed up football and rugby player. I love all things combat sports and when I'm not studying I enjoy training in Brazilan Jiu Jistu and Muay Thai . I am also a W.I.T.S certified personal trainer,