Something that flies under the radar is how the UFC weighs fighters when they arrive for fight week and requests that they be within 8% of their contracted weight. So far, there hasn’t been any punishment we know of for fighters who miss that limit, but lightweight Gilbert Burns was pulled from his fight after allegedly arriving at fight week close to 20% over his contracted weight, per MMAFighting.com.
Burns’ contracted weight is 155 lbs with a one-pound allowance, but he weighed in at 186 lbs on the UFC scale, a full 30 lbs above the weight he would have to reach by Friday. While all fighters cut weight, this cut of almost 20% of his body weight is large, even by UFC standards.
Data from California’s studies into weight-cutting in MMA suggests the average UFC fighter cuts around 9-10% of their body weight, with lightweights cutting a little more than that - around 10-11% of their body weight.
The majority of a fighter’s weight will be cut in the final couple days before a fight, and they will usually be at, or very close to, the weight they were at the start of the week. By fight time, Burns was likely looking at dehydrating over 15% of his entire body weight in water to make the 156 lb limit.
Anything over 10% dehydration is classified as severe dehydration in medical terms and is considered a life-threatening condition which requires medical attention. The California state athletic commission (CSAC) has set a target maximum weight-cut limit of 10%, and may require fighters who cut much more than this to move up a weight class, but the UFC doesn’t have the same policy in place. This fight takes place in Florida, which also doesn’t use California’s weight-cutting rules.
While fighters have successfully cut as much weight as Burns was attempting to in the past, the decision to prevent him from attempting to make such a potentially dangerous cut is a reasonable one.