When a fighter takes a fight, a contract is sent out and signed by both parties. In this contract is a lot of information but among that information is time, place, and agreed-upon weight.
Historically, if a fighter steps on the scale and comes in over the limit of their weight class, there are two punishments. Either the fight is canceled, which is the case most of the time if the fighter’s health is in jeopardy. The other option is to keep the scheduled fight and fine the fighter a percentage of their fight purse. Usually, it would be 20 percent of their purse being handed over to their opponent. On some occasions, it could be 30 percent.
Depending on how much that fighter is making for their fight could be the deciding factor on whether their opponent agrees or not. Also to take into consideration is how much of an advantage a fighter has by not cutting the extra 1-5 pounds or more. More on this later.
Fighters having missed weight has been an issue for years. Since the beginning of weight classes, someone probably missed the mark. However, now more than ever it seems the UFC is becoming more lenient on these mishaps. In the last month alone, four fighters have come in heavy and been let off the hook or downright rewarded for it, beginning with Nick Diaz.
Diaz was returning to the Octagon after a long layoff. He agreed to fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 266. The bout was set to be a welterweight matchup, but the week before the fight, Diaz called for it to be moved up 15 pounds to middleweight. UFC president Dana White even laughed about it saying he didn’t think Diaz wanted to cut the weight. So the fight was adjusted, and Lawler agreed, no punishment was given, it was just moved up.
Next was the situation with Aspen Ladd. Ladd actually made it to the scale for her UFC Vegas 38 bout against Macy Chiasson but missed weight. Ladd was visually in bad shape on the scale and the fight was canceled. Not one week later it was announced that Ladd was going to get an opportunity to headline the UFC Vegas 40 card against Norma Dumont at featherweight. So not only did she miss weight, she cheated Chiasson out of a fight opportunity and was rewarded with another main event opportunity where she would not need to cut as much weight.
Recently on the Dana White Contender Series, a fighter, Jake Hadley, missed weight. He went on to win his fight against Mitch Raposo and received a UFC contract. This sets a bad precedent. Let’s talk more about the advantage a fighter could have by not cutting the full weight.
Fighter A and B decide to meet at 155 pounds. Fighter A makes weight. They worked hard for weeks watching what they ate. Sweated out for a day or days to make the weight. They pushed their body to the limit and made themselves ill in the process. Fighter B gives up a few pounds. Maybe they pushed just as hard as fighter A, but maybe they didn’t. Perhaps they decided to give up some money and not go through that last bit of agony to kill themselves to make weight. They might be able to balloon back up bigger and better than fighter A. That could be an advantage.
The last example is happening now. Paulo Costa is fighting Marvin Vettori this coming Saturday. Costa knew he was coming in heavy. He fessed up and asked for a catchweight. This is both saving him the agony of cutting too much and the loss of money by giving up a percentage of his purse. The UFC granted a catchweight of 195 pounds, which has since been bumped up to 205 pounds. Now could every fighter start asking for this treatment? Maybe a new plan could be to wait until a week out when your opponent doesn’t expect it and ask for a move in weight. That isn’t fair and the UFC should not be allowing these things to go on. Granted, they don’t want to lose out on main events but maybe the leniency could be taken advantage of.
Do you think the UFC needs stricter punishments for fighters missing weight?