Cynthia Calvillo’s return to the Octagon wasn’t supposed to start this way. The UFC strawweight contender, who has been suspended for the past nine months after testing positive for marijuana metabolites following her UFC 219 decision loss to Carla Esparza, returns to action this Saturday night when she takes on Brazilian Poliana Botelho on the main card of UFC Fight Night 140, the promotion’s debut in Argentina. As Calvillo and Botelho are two of the brightest young fighters at 115lbs, this is an important fight for both women as they look to made headway in the women’s strawweight division.
Unfortunately for Calvillo, things didn’t start off well for her. On Friday morning, Calvillo struggled to even step onto the scale, and once she was on it, she ended up missing weight. Calvillo weighed in at 118lbs and looked noticeably sluggish and disheveled on the scales, nearly losing her balance and falling off of it. It’s the first time in Calvillo’s young career that she has missed weight, and it was uncomfortable to watch. The way Calvillo couldn’t even stand up on the scale without holding onto UFC officials holding up a towel beside her was rough enough, as were the shaking motions her body made as she tried her best to stand still and get weighed in. We’ve seen fighters shiver on the scales before (most memorably, Johny Hendricks when he fought Robbie Lawler prior to UFC 171) but this was one of the most disturbing images yet. The fact Calvillo looked so bad and then missed weight anyways shows she is in no condition to fight.
For now, the fight is still scheduled to happen tomorrow, with Calvillo giving up 20% of her purse to Botelho. The fact this fight has not been cancelled yet is stunning to me. I’m not a doctor, but when a fighter struggles so bad to even get onto the scales and then still misses weight badly, you know something’s wrong. If this fight was anywhere other than Argentina, it’s doubtful the fight would still be set right now. To me, the fact this fight is still set to happen is just another example of the dangers of weight cutting. Clearly, this athlete does not appear ready to compete in a brutal sporting contest tomorrow night when they couldn’t even stand up straight on the scale today. Sure, we’ve seen fighters miss weight in he past and still win, but considering all the factors going against Calvillo here — the missed weight, the long layoff, the fact she’s going up against a killer in Botelho — it’s hard to see her fighting tomorrow as being anything but a bad idea.
In many ways, the UFC has been lucky so far as there have been no fatalities due to weight cutting. We’ve seen in smaller promotions around he world that fighters have literally died trying to make weight. In the UFC we’ve seen fights get cancelled and fighters damage their careers with bad weight cuts, but so far nothing serious has happened as far as a fatality goes. At some point if this weight cutting problem doesn’t get fixed, though, something devastating could happen to one of the athletes. I’m not saying Calvillo came even close to that, but the fact remains she missed weight by three pounds and looked terrible doing so. It just doesn’t seem smart to let her compete in a mixed martial arts fight tomorrow night after such a rough weight cut. The practice of weight cutting in MMA is something that needs a massive overhaul, and the UFC shouldn’t wait until someone dies before they step in and do something to change the way the system operates.