UFC was a hugely successful event and Dana White has assured all of us that it has broken every conceivable record going. The whole card, with the exception of the opening bout, provided us with some solid fights and some exciting finishes. The only blemish was that the card was missing two potentially great matchups in Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy and Donald Cerrone vs. Kevin Gastelum.
The second of those fights was called off as Gastelum came in ten pounds overweight. This was heartbreaking news for “Cowboy” as he was not able to compete on the biggest MMA show in history and be part of the historic card.
This, of course, is not the first time that Mr. Gastelum has not managed to stay on weight as he missed weight by nine pounds against the now Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley, which he lost. Also, he was two pounds over against Nico Musoke, a fight which he won by unanimous decision.
A few short months ago at UFC 96 John Lineker was fighting John Dodson in a battle that may very well have vaulted one into a title shot or a number one contendership match in the division ruled by Dominick Cruz. Unfortunately, John Lineker came in at 136.5 pounds, which was half a pound over the 136 pound weight limit.
It was the fifth time in John Lineker’s career which forced him to move up to bantamweight. He was riding an impressive 3-0 win streak in the division coming into the bout and, while he did have to forfeit 20 percent of his purse to Dodson, the fight happened at a catchweight of 136.5 pounds and he managed to grab the win with an entertaining back and forth battle.
My point is these are professional athletes in a sport trying hard to gain more mainstream recognition. These are two seasoned professional fighters competing in the premier organization in the world today. Lineker was headlining a fight card, and Gastelum was competing on the biggest show that has ever been put on in a city that was the last state in the country to legalize MMA. It was supposed to be a celebration of all things good in the sport, a worldwide audience to see these athletes at the peak of their powers compete on the biggest stage of all.
The fact that the UFC fines these fighters and forces them to give a percentage of their fight purse away to their opponent is right and proper. But what about the fans and the legitimacy of the sport? Lineker is now riding a six fight win streak and is 4-0 in his division. But at the same time, can the company afford to put him in for a title shot? Surely not. The whole point of weight classes is that there is more legitimacy in the fight and therefore the sport.
These two athletes whom I have used as examples are far from the only ones. Jason Miller came in at a mind-blowing 24 lbs. overweight and Charles Oliveira can seemingly see all the pies with his glasses and now constantly comes in over weight.
There are massive dangers with cutting weight and finally the UFC now has an official weigh-in much earlier with a dummy weigh-in much later for the fans where the fighters have had a chance to rehydrate themselves. There is no perfect system. I don’t have all the answers, but what I would say is that fighters need to be more realistic with their weight management. They should hire a nutritionist or, even better, the promotion should hire one for them, as ultimately it is their own show they are hurting by having fights called off. If a fighter misses weight two times, he should be required to move up a weight class. This does not have to be in a row, and should be an agreement between all promotions.
Of course fighters get ill and can’t control their weight, while some cannot afford a nutritionist, especially at the rates that Mr. Dolce charges, but the key thing is they have to be professional. If they are not going to hit the mark, they should let their opponent know and let the promotion know ahead of time. Two pounds over weight can be excused as a blip, but if this is to become the premier sport in the world, fighters need to be smarter and the organizations need to help them.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS KING’S TAKE HERE: KING: Reminder that UFC 204 comes before UFC 205, and it’s worth getting excited about
(Christopher King of Arundel, England is a new MMATorch contributor. He got hooked on MMA after watching UFC 114 featuring “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans and from there, he says, “I spent a ridiculous amount of money and time watching every event from UFC 1 up to the present so I could understand the history of the sport, the fighters, the weight divisions and everything else in between. It was the style of fighting that drew me in, in order to see what martial art was the most effective, and from there, the fighters themselves, their story, their training and the sacrifices that they go through.” Follow him on Twitter – @ChristofKing)