The Weight Cutting Chronicles – UFC St. Louis’ Eye, Alves, Meek, VanZant
The Weight Cutting Chronicles No. 2 – UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi (UFC St. Louis)
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.
USADA and Weight Cut Recovery
The Joe Rogan Experience: MMA Show #9 podcast featured Jeff Novitzky. This conversation is a must-listen too, and should be watched for any UFC fan who wants to learn more about the testing and regulations. Of course, they talked extensively about drugs in the sport as well as aspects of weight-cutting. Jeff Novitzky has been dubbed to nickname “The Golden Snitch” referring to his role in pairing the incredibly thorough United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) with the UFC.
Jeff spoke about the IV ban that the UFC instated, mid 2015, to try and catch dopers as well as to persuade fighters not to cut as extreme amounts of weight. Before this ban fighters were able to cut weight and and then immediately after weigh-ins they would use an intravenous saline solution to better rehydrate themselves. This practice was very widely used and resulted in the fighters being able to better recover than they could by solely taking fluids orally. The ban was not popular at all with the fighters.
Not allowing fighters to use IVs for rehydration is dangerous and stupid. If you allow weight cuts allow IVs. https://t.co/U1VBs3C0wm
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) June 26, 2015
Novitzky also talked about the UFC recently changing the time of the official weigh-ins from the afternoon of the day before the fights to the morning of the day before the fights. The UFC kept the ceremonial weigh-ins for the fans and instead held the real weigh-ins at the hotel during the morning so that all the fighters have to do is wake up come down stairs and weigh in. Many believe this is the best case scenario for the safety of fighters cutting weight for the way the UFC is formatted right now. But moving forward I think that in order to try and remove the more dangerous weight cuts the UFC should have octagon side weigh ins, or weigh-ins an hour before the fight. This way fighters can cut weight but cant cut such an absurd amount of weight because they are forced to compete right after they weigh in.
Lets take a look at fighters who have struggled with weight cuts in the past or are making a debut in a new weight class for UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi.
Fight Pass Prelims
Jessica Eye (11-6 (1 NC) MMA, 1-5 (1 NC) UFC)
vs. Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Jessica “Evil” Eye is making the transition from bantamweight and moving down to the UFC’s brand new flyweight division. Hopefully this weight change will bring wins for her as she is on a four-fight losing streak, all by way of decision. She is one of the smaller bantamweights and with a good weight cut she could be a real force at flyweight. This new women’s flyweight divison that the UFC just opened is going to do a lot of good for a lot of female competitors. The divison might be slow at first as fighters start to adjust their weights and top contenders start to rise. Eye could easily be in the mix with a single win. Every fight in the women’s flyweight division is an important fight.
Thiago Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC)
vs. Zak Cummings (21-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
Alves is a prime example of someone who is notorious for having trouble with weight cuts and just not being able to find a weight he is comfortable to fight at. He is also well known for putting on 30 pounds in about three hours in 2012 before his loss to Martin Kampmann. Alves had already missed weight two times before he decided to move down a whole 15 pounds to lightweight for his UFC 205 bout against Jim Miller in November of 2016. Shockingly Pitbull would miss weight and come in at 162.6lbs. and for his next fight would come back up to welterweight. After everything Alves has put his body through while cutting weight, don’t put it past him to miss weight or have a particularly draining cut for this fight. Especially with it being just his second fight back at the weight class. He is a huge welterweight who has been in the game for a long time and his body might not be able to cut weight quite so easily anymore.
That face you make when your weight is on point and you get to enjoy holiday food 🥘. Thanks to… https://t.co/cg0ImQfJvL
— Thiago Pitbull Alves (@ThiagoAlvesATT) December 23, 2017
#10 (LW) Michael Johnson (18-12-1 MMA, 9-8 UFC)
vs. #10 Darren Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC)
To welcome Johnson to the featherweight division is #10-ranked “The Damage” Elkins, who is coming into this fight on a five-fight win-streak against some of the best men in the featherweight division. Not to mention his comeback of the year for 2017 against the then undefeated, Mirsad Bektic early in the year.
Johnson is coming off of his loss in 2017’s Fight of the Year against the one of the most violent men in the world Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje is dropping from lightweight (155lbs.) to featherweight (145lbs).
When you stop and think about how tough a new weight cut will be in a few weeks, then you step… https://t.co/zGCbAmJo5I
— Michael Johnson (@FollowTheMenace) December 22, 2017
This man has proved worthy as he’s stepped in the cage with Edson Barboza, Nate Diaz, Dustin Poirer and Khabib Nurmagomedov all in the past three years. Johnson boasted some of the fastest hands and best stand-up skills in the lightweight division as his wins over the Barboza and Poirer show. But due to all the competition he faces and not being afraid to put everything on the line, In the past two years he has only one win and four losses. This move to featherweight could be exactly what he needs, maybe being bigger in the division will showcase his power and put Elkins to sleep, or maybe “The Damage” will be able to find a way to weather yet another storm.
— MMAHEYDAY (@MMAHEYDAY) September 18, 2016
Emil Meek (9-2-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
vs. #11 Kamaru Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC)
“The Nigerian Nightmare” is a problem fight for anyone in the UFC’s welterweight division. A very dangerous test for Meek that will decide if he deserves to be in the rankings.
Meek will be at least 190lbs. when he enters the cage and just like Usman, has an extremely muscular build. Meek only has one UFC fight but has nothing but finishes in his European pro fights and clearly has dynamite in his hands. Viking blood and a warrior to the core, this Norwegian is built like a brick house and fans are looking forward to seeing just how dangerous he is as he is thrown right into the thick of the welterweight division. Expect that come weigh-in day it may not be pretty, but Meek will make the weight as this is the biggest fight of this year and sure to be a stand up war.
— UFC (@ufc) January 9, 2018
(#12 SW) Paige VaZant (7-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
vs. Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4, 1-0 UFC)
The former strawweight VanZant has made it public that she has had an extremely hard time making 115lbs. She has revealed that she has lost consciousness multiple times trying to make the weight and that she doesn’t think that she will be able to fight there anymore. Expect the UFC’s golden girl to make a splash in this new division and be one of its stars. Without the drain of the weight cut coupled with her ever-improving skills, who knows what could happen on fight night. Seriously every time we see Paige in the octagon she shows improvement and new techniques. Every fight in the new women’s flyweight division is an important fight so she needs to bring her ‘A’ game.
— UFC (@ufc) January 9, 2018
VanZant is another fighter who’s career has been positively effected as a result of the UFC opening up a women’s flyweight division as now she will be able to move up. She will be fighting Clark who has previously had weight-cutting issues of her own. A former featherweight, turned bantamweight… turned flyweight. She has now missed weight at flyweight twice since 2015. Her second weight miss came before her lone UFC win against Bec Rawlings in November where she missed weight coming in at 128lbs.
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. This is a stacked card, especially for a non-ay-per-view card. It would be a shame if any of the fighters on the card have a bad weight cut, but expect fireworks.