HOUSTON – Missing weight never is going to go over well with the UFC brass, but sometimes there are exceptions to the rule.
Such is the case for Team Alpha Male product Andre Fili, who on Friday missed weight for his UFC debut, a featherweight fight against Jeremy Larsen at UFC 166. But he still made a big impression with his boss.
Flii came in at 148.5 pounds, already having cut all he could. Although he was given two hours to get to 146, he elected to forfeit 20 percent of his purse – taking a hit out of the bump in paydays he could expect after moving up from competing for smaller promotions.
But under the circumstances, Fili (13-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) may have come off as something of a hero just for taking the fight against Larsen (8-5 MMA, 0-3 UFC), let alone getting close to making the weight. Fili won with a TKO 53 seconds into the second round on Saturday's prelims, which took place at Toyota Center in Houston. The Fili-Larsen fight streamed on MMAjunkie.com and Facebook ahead of prelims on FOX Sports 1 and a main card on pay-per-view.
Fili took the fight on less than two weeks notice, stepping in for an injured Charles Oliveira. The fact of the matter is, he was training for a different fight – at welterweight. Fili said he was at 178 pounds when he got the call from the UFC, meaning he cut nearly 30 pounds just to get close to the featherweight limit.
After Saturday's event, UFC President Dana White said, essentially, there will be no hard feelings for Fili missing weight.
"He was like, 'I'll never miss weight again,'" White told a small group of reporters following the post-event news conference for UFC 166. "I'm like, 'We respect you taking this fight.' The kid was fighting in another show at a higher weight class – a much-higher weight class – and came in and cut all this weight to come into this fight tonight."
White also dismissed the line of thinking that Fili may have been at an advantage because he didn't have to get down to the featherweight limit, and Larsen did.
"He looked awesome," White said. "When you get into a situation like that, and you're like, 'Wow, well this kid was able to come in at this weight' – well he loses a piece of his purse, but he was actually at a bigger disadvantage in that fight because of all the weight he had to cut in such a short amount of time, and taking the fight on short notice. So I have a lot of respect for guys who do that."
After the win, which was his ninth straight after wins for promotions like Tachi Palace Fights, Fili said missing weight backed him into the proverbial corner to make sure he got the win.
"I had so much to prove today," Fili said. "I didn't want to be the kid that came in and messed up by missing weight, but I really wanted to make a statement. Next time, I'll be a lot more crisp. I hit him with a lot of harder shots, but he just kept coming at me. He is a super tough kid."
As far as White is concerned, Fili proved enough and made more than one statement. He did enough to get a pass on the whole weight thing this time.
"He said he'll never miss weight again. I told him, 'I respect what you did, kid. Don't worry about it.'"