MMA captivates an audience like no other sport for many reasons. One of these reasons, is the appeal of watching a smaller man move up weight classes to fight a larger man. BJ Penn, Randy Couture, Cowboy Cerrone, etc. There is a reason that these fighters were and are fan favourites. That being said, it does not always work out for the best. Sometimes the bigger guy beats the crap out of the smaller guy (think GSP vs BJ Penn). Other times, the effect of such jumps can be even more disastrous, or have longer lasting consequences.
Weight cutting is a horrific ordeal. For those of you that have experienced it, you know full well the dire effect it can have on your body. For those of you that have not experienced it, let me give you a picture of my own experiences. In my fighting days, I would cut to 170 lbs. in order to be a massive welterweight. I stand at six foot two and, at the time, walked around at about 190-195 lbs. Needless to say the process was not fun. Many days, all I would have to eat is half of a chicken breast and an apple. Then I would work out in a really hot room (sometimes over 90 degrees) with three layers of clothing on, my skivvies, a sauna suit, and sweats. It friggin’ sucked. For other fighters, it can and often does get much much worse. And on top of the misery, it does not always go smoothly or give you the end result you need. Weight cutting is simply not a perfect process.
The difficulties and inconsistencies in weight cutting that stem from a fighter gaining too much weight in between bouts are very well known. However, weight cutting issues are not limited to guys like Johny Hendricks (who reportedly has a fierce love for Baconators from Wendy’s). There are other ways to seriously screw up your weight cuts. Presently, I am concerned with the difficulties Conor McGregor will face if and when he decides to move back down to featherweight. The reason for my worry is related to the very thing that has driven his popularity. His ego.
Now before I get to the specifics of my concerns, let me get a little scientific on you here. The human body is heavily dependent on a state of physiological balance referred to as homeostasis or, “the tendency of the body to remain in a relatively stable equilibrium” (thanks google dictionary). In other words, your body is not a pendulum. It does not like swinging back and forth during physiological changes. Rather, it likes to remain consistent. Now don’t get me wrong, the body can certainly be pushed. But at some point, when you throw homeostasis into the trash, your body just quits. I am concerned this is exactly what will happen if and when McGregor cuts back down to featherweight.
People love Mystic Mac’s ego. It accounts for a large chunk of his appeal. That’s why when he decided to move up to lightweight and fight Rafael dos Anjos the MMA world cheered. And from a weight cutting stand point, it was not very risky. McGregor fighting a 155 was well within his body’s realm of balance. His diet wouldn’t change much, if at all, and he wouldn’t have to drastically adjust his workouts. In other words, he could maintain a state of constancy that his body likes. But then his ego (and the UFC’s negotiations with Diaz) got in the way. When Nate Diaz said he couldn’t make 155 and asked for a catchweight bout at 165 lbs., McGregor would have been wise to accept it or maybe even ask it go down slightly. However, as we all know, he took it as a challenge and upped the ante to 170 lbs. While we love his competitiveness, this was a very risky move by McGregor, and not just because Diaz is a bigger man. It was also risky because instead of having a minor weight cut down to 155, a featherweight was going to jump up to 170 lbs.
McGregor has since admitted that he did not approach the weight change well. He was wolfing down steaks, adding more muscle, and desperately trying to gain weight in a short amount of time. Like I said, the human body does not like rapid changes. Then, as we all know, he lost the fight and set up a rematch, once again at 170 lbs. This is where my concern comes in. By the time that McGregor moves back down to featherweight (assuming he does), he will have fought twice at 170 lbs., and will likely have been way above his normal weight for nearly a year or more. Assuming he jumps right back in the cage, as he is prone to do, this means that Conor will have to burn a large portion of muscle from his frame. Which means altering his workout routines. He will also have to change his diet. Which means an adjustment for his metabolism. Altogether, within twelve to sixteen months McGregor will have made a massive swing from featherweight, to lightweight, to welterweight, and then back down to featherweight. Then, there is a risk that he will approach the weight cut as he always has, and make zero adjustments at all. Remember what I said about the body disliking big changes?
Well, there you have it folks. My concerns laid out in earnest. Will Conor prove me wrong? Will he take his time with the weight cut and allow his body to reside in a state relatively near homeostasis? The past tells us no. Mystic Mac loves money, bold maneuvers, and attention. These things basically obliterate homeostasis by themselves. In reality, only time will tell. I hope he proves me wrong. However, if he proves me right, and his cardio and/or chin is awful when he moves back down to featherweight, you can all refer to me as Jacob Miller, the prognosticator of MMA.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter @JacobJmoshe89