The Weight-Cutting Chronicles: UFC 225
The Weight-Cutting Chronicles No. 14- UFC 225: Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero II
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 willpower. 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.
What Time Should Weigh-ins be in the UFC?
The first week of June was a big one for the UFC and weight cutting. Due to the large amount of fighters struggling to make weight many fight fans looked for something to blame. In 2018 so far Most fans came to the conclusion that the UFC’s change from having weigh ins in the afternoon to early weigh-ins to be the cause. In light of this years numerous weight cutting blunders UFC President Dana White decided to comment on the companies controversial morning weigh ins. On the UFC Unfiltered Podcast Dana White said, “We’re looking at taking the weigh-ins back to the way they used to be. So when the guys weigh in there, at the (ceremonial weigh-ins), that will be it. That’ll be the real weigh-in.” sparking a huge debate throughout fans and fighters alike.
Dana White mentioned on Unfiltered podcast he wants to move back to afternoon weigh-ins. I know they’ve discussed that internally, not sure how fast it could happen. UFC is actually playing with several new ideas re: the weight problem right now. They want to address it.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 5, 2018
So, as most UFC fans will remember, what are now the ceremonial weigh ins usually the afternoon before the fight used to be the actual weigh ins. This gave the fighters approximately 24 hours to recover from their weight cuts. Then on June 3rd, 2016 ahead of UFC 199 the California State Athletic Commission implemented early weigh ins for the first time. Fighters would weigh in at scales in the hotel they were staying between 9-11 am local time of where ever the event was taking place. This would now give fighters around 36 hours to recover from their weight cuts. An idea with the greatest of intentions, giving fighters more time to recover would make them healthier coming into the fights resulting in less injuries and better fights. And it worked! Well, for a while, until the fighters started doing what competitors do, look for a competitive advantage. Fighters started to push the boundaries of their weight cuttings figuring with the added time to recover they might be able to squeeze off a little more weight from their frame and be a little more exhausted. Fighters came into fight weeks completely yolked from their training camps and carrying a little more muscle just because they knew they’d have more time to recover and gain it back. 12 hours might not seem like hardly any time to the average person but realistically you could easily be looking at a professional fighter that has put on an extra 6+ lbs. of good weight in that time frame.
The more time to recover from weight ins the better, BUT only if the fighters cut weight responsibly and don’t try to cut extra weight just because they have more time. If the fighters weighed in closer to the time of the fight this eliminates fighters trying to “game the system” of making it into a smaller weight class and then come in fight night weighing 20-30lbs. more than that, theoretically. In reality, these fighters are some of the most vicious competitors in the world. They are looking for an advantage, any advantage, no matter how small. Some fighters will continue to cut an excessive amount of weight to gain an advantage as long as the weight cutting is allowed no matter the time of the weigh ins. The only way to get around this is weighing in right before they get into the cage. The early weigh-ins however was not about this however they were solely about giving the fighters more time to recover between the weigh ins and the fights to hopefully reduce injury.
Many fighters are opposed to the elimination of the early weigh in system as there is more time for fighters to recover after weight cuts.
UFC top lightweight fighter Eddie Alvarez comments:
Early Weigh inns were the best thing to happen to this sport . You are either accountable or Not . Missing weight has nothing to do with the structure is has to do with the individual. 🤦♂️ #baddec #makeweight— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) June 5, 2018
Proper weight cuts start months in advance not the week of the fight , We sign contacts wayyyy in advance and are told the requirements . If You miss Its Your Fucking Fault !!!!!!!— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) June 5, 2018
Not the structure, not the hot tubs , not the suanas, not the meal prep guys , not the UFC , not the plane ride . If You miss weight it's All Your Fualt . Why are we blaming the system ??????? Please help me here guys— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) June 5, 2018
MMA legend Big John McCarthy:
It’s a huge mistake. Why is it you would change things for the small minority of fighters not doing things right, pushing the envelope of what their bodies can lose and penalizing all of the fighters who do it correctly? Does this make sense to you? https://t.co/nKvWDltUcV— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) June 5, 2018
People are missing point of early weigh-ins. It has nothing to do with making it easier for you too make weight, there is nothing that makes it easier. It was moved so the athlete has MORE TIME to re-hydrate because a hydrated fighter is safer than a dehydrated fighter. https://t.co/UVN5w19z8F— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) June 4, 2018
UFC Bantamweight Fighter Sarah Kaufman:
Unless a super short notice fight's taken, there's no excuse for missing weight. Be disciplined with regime in and outside the gym and don't take a fight you know you're too far in lbs from given the time. 5hrs shouldn't be the deciding factor but it is better for hydration 100% https://t.co/Jwa3uSjsD5— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) June 5, 2018
This week let’s take a focused look at a few fighters on the main card of UFC 225: Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero II. History is being made with the first non title bout in the UFC Women’s Featherweight Division and two title fights featuring fighters that eliminated excessive weight cutting and experienced immediate success.
UFC 225 Main Card
Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (11-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC)
Megan Anderson (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
At the moment the UFC’s Women’s featherweight division is incredibly bare. Febuary 11, 2017 is when Holly Holm lost a unanimous decision to Germanie de Randamie for the inaugural UFC Women’s Featherweight belt. In the almost year and a half since then not much has happen. Cyborg has snatched the belt and basically thrashed her challengers. At the moment on the UFC’s website there are only 5 women listed in the division. Cris Cyborg, Tonya Evinger, Yana Kunitskaya, Holy Holm and Megan Anderson. The UFC is in dire need of change more legitimate 145lb. women.
This fight is historic in the Women’s Featherweight division. This is the first non title fight in the UFC Women’s 145lbs. weight class.Who better to share this honor than Holly Holm and Megan Anderson?
Holly Holm was formerly a bantamweight fighter that has moved up in weight since the introduction of the new featherweight weight class in the UFC. Holm has been through a bit of a rough patch after her highlight head kick win of Ronda Rousey back in November of 2015. Holm has gone 1- 4 since that fight. Holly’s last time out against Cyborg at the end of 2017 wasn’t a bad showing, as she was able to hold UFC Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg off for 5 rounds but ultimately lost a unanimous decision. Holly is definitely hungry for a win here and looking to welcome the UFC newcomer in a very violent way.
Megan Anderson is a new face in the division and already has many fans attention. Anderson was a dominate force in Invicta and is a real threat on her feet. She stands at 6’0″ tall easily the largest women in the UFC currently. Saturday night Megan will be making her UFC debut. Depending on how she looks at UFC 225 she could be a welcome legit contender for the belt.
Rafael Dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7)
Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC)
Rafael Dos Anjos was weakened at 155lbs. and was still a champion. Now hes at 170lbs., bigger, scarier and way more dangerous. Dos Anjos is a roster staple with a whopping 24 fights with the UFC. After losing his belt by round one TKO to Eddie Alvarez in July of 2017 and then losing a unanimous decision to Tony Ferguson 4 months later, RDA decided it was time for a change. RDA moved up to 170lbs. and has faced nothing but top level competition in his 3 fights in the division. First a unanimous decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in June of 2017. Then a first round submission win over Neil Magny in September of 2017. Neil Magny is huge for 170lbs. at 6’3″ and possessing a 80″ reach so this was a big test for RDA who is obviously a bit undersized, but RDA passed with fly colors. In Rafael’s most recent fight in December of 2017 he got a 5 round unanimous decision victory of former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler. Dos Anjos looked great against the naturally bigger man in Lawler. And just like that with three fantastic showings over the course of a year Dos Anjos has put himself in line for more UFC gold. RDA has found that even with the size disadvantage at welterweight, he is incredibly lethal because he is no longer draining himself with an excessive weight cut.
Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC)
Yoel “Soilder of God” Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC)
Robert Whittaker is a shining example of how removing an excessive weight cut can resulting the complete recapitalization of a fighter. Whitaker was on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in 2012. Whittaker would compete at 170lbs. for this competition and actually go on to win the entire show. Whitaker had his first 5 fights in the UFC at 170lbs. Robert was incredibly drained while cutting to fight in the welterweight division going 3-2. The only 2 losses of his UFC career came back to back in a split decision loss to Court McGee and first round TKO to Stephen Thompson. In November of 2014 The Reaper moved up to 185lbs. and went on an absolute tear. 7 wins. 4 finishes. 0 losses. 0 split decisions. All against elite competition like Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero. Robert looks amazing at this weight and at just 27 years old has a bright future.
In Yoel’s last fight against Luke Rockhold he missed weight weighing in at 187.7lbs. Because this fight was for the interim belt, Romero essentially eliminated himself from belt contention before the fight with Rockhold even began.But boy did Yoel put on a show KOing Luke Rockhold in dramatic fashion.
Romero is a phenomenal physical specimen but father time is undefeated. The Cuban is now 41 years old. Years of difficult weight cuts and brutal training sessions are catching up with his ability to cut weight. That is just the bottom line. And if he can make weight, will he be in a compromised state to do so? Regardless of the outcome of this fight I see Romero moving up in weight, but especially if he losses in dramatic fashion. Maybe a fight with D.C.?
Romero will be a fighter to watch closely on the scale. Also something to remember is that Romero again is not granted the grace lb. so he must weigh in at 185lbs. because it is a title fight.
Here We Go
This card is absolutely stacked. This is without a doubt the card of the year so far. Fans are absolutely ecstatic as we get into the second half of the year which means summer, the return of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, International Fight Week and plenty of fantastic cards just like this one. Don’t sleep on the rest of the fights for this card especially the undercard a lot of great talent will be on display at UFC 225 this Saturday in Chicago.
Is UFC 225 the best card of the year? 👀 pic.twitter.com/kK6SPHgfyj— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 5, 2018