UFC 210 is just a day away, but the lead up to the event has been struck by controversy. This time around, however, the controversy isn’t so much to do with fighters, or even the promotion, but instead the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC).
The NYSAC has made something of an infamous reputation in its short history of regulating mixed martial arts, with decisions ranging from suspending fighters for jumping out of the cage after a win, or for missing weight, and barring fighters who have had laser eye surgery from competition. Unfortunately, it looks like the UFC’s latest trip to the ‘Empire State’ will be no different. The UFC held their normal early weigh ins on Friday, April 7th, and two fighters ended up at the mercy of what appear to be somewhat hidden rules.
Women’s strawweight fighter Pearl Gonzalez was pulled from the card, apparently due to a regulation that says women fighters can’t have breast implants. And while it was bad news for her, Daniel Cormier ended up the beneficiary of some equally obscure bureaucracy.
The UFC light heavyweight champion came in 1.2lbs over the limit for his championship fight with Anthony Johnson. Under UFC rules, that should make the bout automatically a non-title affair, or cause him to be stripped and only allow Johnson a chance to win the belt. Cormier, however, was allowed to get back on the scales just moments afterward, and to everyone’s surprise made weight. According to NYSAC executive director Tony Giardina, that’s all fine under commission policy.
“The policy of the Athletic Commission in championship bouts is to allow fighters to get on the scale a second time if they are overweight the first time they get on the scale,” Giardina explained in a brief press meeting. “So he came in, and he was 1.2 lbs overweight the first time he got on the scale. He is allowed, according to commission policy, up to two hours to get back on the scale. He came back a short time after and he made it exactly at 205. So, according to the commission policy, it's a legal weigh in and he was right on weight.”
“That's only for championship fights,” he continued when asked for clarification. “In non-championship fights, the policy is that the fighter gets on the scale, and if they're overweight, they can't leave. They can drop their drawers and get on the scale again, but that would be the final weigh in. But, there is a distinction between championship fights and non-championship fights. And this was a championship fight, so we're following that policy.
“The only other thing I would say is that, in terms of losing weight, you can't lose more than 1% of your bodyweight in any 24-hour period before the fight. And of course, it was 1.2 lbs, which is less than 1% of his body weight.”
Giardina also revealed that while the UFC may have their own procedures for how they want their weigh-ins conducted, the commission’s regulations override those rules. When asked where this specific rule about championship fighters getting another opportunity to make weight was in the official regulations, he offered to send the documentation to those who required it, saying “It's not in the legislation, it's not in the statute.”
Hopefully it’s at least something that the fighters and the UFC were made aware of before hand, as it seems to have caught everyone else off guard.
UFC 210 takes place this Saturday, April 8th in Buffalo, NY. The event is expected to be headlined by the light heavyweight title bout between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson.