It’s clear something isn’t working the way it’s supposed to when it comes to weight classes in MMA. For years it’s been common knowledge in MMA that athletes are cutting huge amounts of weight to get down to their respective divisions, only to gain a large portion of it back on fight night. But, without actual fight night numbers, there was always an element of ‘open secrecy’ as to just how much weight was really getting shifted.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) pulled back the curtain for the UFC’s latest pay-per-view card in Las Angeles. Back in 2017 the commission implemented new guidelines for MMA, dictating what percentage of body weight a fighter could lose during fight week and – in light of any violations of policy – what weight class they’d be allowed to fight in for future bouts in the state.
That process also includes measuring athletes’ fight night numbers, post re-hydration, under the stipulation that athletes should not be more than 10% above their contracted weight in the cage. And for the first time, they’ve released those ‘day of’ weights to the public, showing that all but 6 fighters failed to hit that 10% mark.
While most of it was exactly what fans might expect – almost every fighter gained back to a full division above the one they are contracted to fight in – there were a few interesting surprises. For all Demetrious Johnson talked about Henry Cejudo’s size and strength, Johnson was the heavier man in the cage on Saturday, coming in at 142 lbs, to Cejudo’s 141 lbs. Also, two fighters weighed in a full two divisions higher than their listed bout weight for the event (h/t to MMA Fighting for the data).
TJ Dillashaw - 149.5 lbs (10.7% over 135)
Cody Garbrandt - 142 lbs (5.2% over 135)
Henry Cejudo - 141 lbs (12.8% over 125)
Demetrious Johnson - 142 lbs (13.6% over 125)
Renato Moicano - 165.5 lbs (13.4% over 146)
Cub Swanson - 160.5 lbs (9.9% over 146)
JJ Aldrich - 130.5 lbs (12.5% over 116)
Polyana Viana - 129.5 lbs (11.6% over 116)
Thiago Santos - 209.5 lbs (12.6% over 186)
Kevin Holland - 193 lbs (3.8% over 186)
Pedro Munhoz - 151 lbs (11% over 136)
Brett Johns - 158 lbs (16.2% over 136)
Ricky Simon - 152 lbs (11.8% over 136)
Montel Jackson - 152 lbs (11.8% over 136)
Ricardo Ramos - 153.5 lbs (12.9% over 136)
Kyung Ho Kang - 154 lbs (13.2% over 136)
Sheymon Moraes - 164 lbs (12.3% over 146)
Matt Sayles - 165 lbs (13% over 146)
FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Alex Perez - 146.5 lbs (16.3% over 126)
Jose Torres - 143 lbs (14.4% over 126)
Weili Zhang - 127 lbs (9.5% over 116)
Danielle Taylor - 124.5 lbs (7.3% over 116)
Marlon Vera - 150 lbs (10.3% over 136)
Wuliji Buren - 149.5 lbs (9.9% over 136)
As the numbers above show, with the exceptions of Danielle Taylor, Kevin Holland, and Cody Garbrandt, every other fighter was up at least one full division by fight night. Alex Perez and Brett Johns were, in fact, up two full divisions by the time they stepped into the cage.
And while Johns may have lost, when measured against their weigh-in day numbers, 75% of the fighters who cut (or at least regained) more weight than their opponent won their bout on the evening. One event is too small a sample size to really mean anything, but for those looking to prove that weight cutting isn’t the advantage it’s made out to be, those are some unfortunate numbers. Hopefully California will keep releasing this information down the road. And perhaps other commissions around the nation will start to follow suit.