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3 fighters who are outspoken critics of weight cutting in the UFC

UFC Fight Night: Overeem v Harris
UFC Fight Night: Overeem v Harris
Sai Krishna
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Criticism of drastic weight cutting is slowly intensifying in the UFC, with many active and retired fighters speaking up against the concept.

At UFC Vegas 22 in March, Julia Stoliarenko collapsed twice on the scales as she desperately tried to make weight. It wasn't the first instance of a disturbing weigh-in, and many UFC legends like Max Holloway, Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov have opened up about their nightmarish experiences ahead of fights.

Here are 3 fighters who are outspoken critics of weight cutting in the UFC.


#3 Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson

UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis
UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis

Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson now competes in ONE Championship, where hydration tests and different weight brackets ensure that fighters don't kill themselves trying to make weight.

'Mighty Mouse' has said that he went through a lot of trouble - especially with his liver and kidneys - to make 125 lbs in the UFC. The ONE flyweight limit is ten pounds higher at 135 lbs, which is the same as the UFC bantamweight limit.

Johnson praised ONE's system while criticizing those of the UFC and other American MMA promotions:

“I think at the end of the day in America, I don’t know what the commissions are waiting on. I think ONE are doing it right; everybody makes weight. When it comes to fighting or an event coming up, everybody shouldn’t be focused on who’s going to miss weight and who’s going to make weight. I’ll be surprised if Vegas didn’t have lines for that."

The 34-year-old certainly knows what he's talking about, as a fighter who has always gone to great lengths to successfully make weight.


#2 Former UFC lightweight contender Paul Felder

UFC 242 Barboza v Felder
UFC 242 Barboza v Felder

Recently retired Paul Felder made a name for himself as a fighter who was willing to take on anyone, even on short notice.

'The Irish Dragon' stepped in on five days' notice to face former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in what turned out to be his final professional fight. Felder not only made weight but also went all five rounds with RDA, falling on the wrong side of a close split decision.

Opening up about his horrific weight cut in the lead-up to the Dos Anjos fight, Felder said:

"So usually I’m watching things that involve food as well because I’m, I’m hungry, right? But this was such a rapid way cut, that the hunger never even became a thing. It was so much water. It was so thirsty for so long. It was horrible. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, I never want to cut weight again, right? Ever, ever, ever again. Never, ever, ever again."

The 36-year-old had some words of advice for young and upcoming fighters, asking them not to sacrifice their health to compete at a different weight class:

Felder added that he developed an eating disorder over the years due to constant weight cutting. Now a commentator and analyst, he will have more of a voice to convince UFC fighters not to go down the same path.


#1 Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping

UFC Fight Night: Silva v Bisping
UFC Fight Night: Silva v Bisping

Another fighter who never backed away from a battle, Michael Bisping is known for telling it as it is. Earlier this year, the UFC Hall of Famer gave his two cents on the problems with weight cutting and even offered a solution.

While Bisping insisted it isn't the UFC's fault since fighters choose to cut weight, he insisted the introduction of new weight classes in the promotion would persuade most fighters to move up a division. He illustrated how the UFC's system of weight cutting attempts to curb the harmful effects but falls short in that regard:

"I just wish there was talk of it a while ago about you had to be a certain weight like 15 percent away from your weight or something like that. I’d like to see that properly enforced and even same-day weigh-ins, but again, the problem with that is that you’re going to have people cutting weight the same day and getting into the octagon, and that’s going to give you a higher risk of brain damage and brain trauma."

Bisping's idea certainly holds merit, but it's something that might not be implemented in the near future. Either way, it's clear that the UFC's current system of weight cutting cannot continue for very long.


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Edited by Atharva Papnoi
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