The days of Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Daniel Cormier, Johny Hendricks and others cutting huge weight may be at an end.
The issue of weight-cutting has long been a major bugbear in the world of MMA. Unlike boxing, which has frequent intervals in their weight classes, some of the jumps in MMA weight classes leave athletes in limbo, in terms of choice of division.
On Tuesday evening, the California State Athletic Commission (via MMA Fighting) passed the largest set of weight-cutting regulations in MMA history.
They announced the introduction of weight classes at 165, 175, 195 and 225 pounds. The MMA community has long called for a bridging of the ludicrous 20 and 60-pound gaps between middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. Their prayers have been answered somewhat with this evening’s news. Despite the introduction of 165 and 175-pound weight classes, the classic welterweight (170 pound) weight class will remain, due to its ‘iconic’ nature in the sport.
The CSAC executive officer Andy Foster hopes for a full roll out of the plan in time for UFC 214, on July 29 in Anaheim, California. The event is due to be headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.
The fight itself is an interesting one in relation to the topic of extreme weight-cutting. Daniel Cormier controversially made weight for his last fight, with Anthony Johnson, under dubious circumstances. Having appeared visibly drained at the weigh-ins, it should be interesting to see the approach Cormier takes in the lead up to this fight, in terms of weight management.
On the other side, Jon Jones has voiced his opinions on the introduction of a 225lb division previously on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Jones is considered a slim light heavyweight and would most likely have to cut minimal weight to be part of a 225lb division. As he nears 30, he may well see his future lie at this new weight class. likewise, Daniel Cormier, who cuts far more weight to reach the 205lb limit.
The announcement of the extra weight classes was just one of ten points released as part of a concentrated effort to help combat extreme weight-cutting, dehydration issues and protect fighters’ health. Other points included were heavier fines for missing weight and fight day weight checks. Under the new regulations, fighters who miss weight will now be fined 20 per cent of all bonuses. The bonus will go to their opponent, assuming they have made weight.
Repeat offenders for missing weight (I’m looking at you Johny Hendricks) will be strongly recommended to move up a weight class. This certainly hasn’t harmed many fighters in the past. ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whitaker all moved up from welterweight and have found relative success at light heavyweight and middleweight respectively.
A fight day check-in will also be introduced. A fighter will be expected to gain no more than 10 per cent of their bodyweight, post-weigh-in. If they do, they too will be recommended to move up a weight class.
The UFC, Bellator and Invicta have all expressed their support for the new measures introduced. While these weight classes are to be introduced, not all companies may necessarily adopt them. For example, UFC and Bellator have yet to adopt a women’s atomweight (105lb) division.
The CSAC have proven to be a pioneer in the fight against extreme weight-cutting. It was their work which led to the introduction of the earlier weigh-ins in 2016.
Noel Ryan, Pundit Arena