5 Times MMA fighters missed weight in a championship fight
If a fighter misses weight in a title fight, they are not awarded the belt even if they win
What makes the top one percent of the sports world tick? Money that could last them ten lifetimes? A lifestyle so grand that it would make the kings of old envious? More devotees than the Pope? Not quite. What drives them is their white hot passion for competition; the unsurpassable exhilaration of pitting yourself against the best and having your hand raised when all is said and done. So it is very wounding when anything detracts from this experience, even in the slightest.
At the UFC 221 weigh-ins, Luke Rockhold did trash talk Yoel Romero for his botched weight cut. With the belt being out of reach for Romero, Rockhold, oozing hubris, was very convincing that the title he dearly sought was already his. Even the betting odds shifted in favor of Rockhold after Romero missed weight. But nobody told Romero and even if they did, it most likely wouldn't have perturbed the Cuban Silverback at all. What we were left gaping at was a singularity in the history of the UFC or rather, MMA itself.
Being ineligible to win the belt didn't stop Romero from anesthetizing Luke Rockhold with a couple of monstrous lefts in the third round (his sixth 3rd round finish). In fact, he earned a title rematch against Robert Whittaker with the jaw-dropping win. But there have been times in championship fights where a fighter has missed weight and predictably nosedived during the fight itself. Let's take a look at a few of those infamous instances:
#5 Paulo Filho vs Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen is cursed when it comes to major title fights. He has been in five of them, but has never won a belt, and not just because his opponent was better than him. Case in point; his Middleweight title rematch against Paulo Filho at WEC 36. The powerful Brazilian won their first tangle after the referee halted the fight when Sonnen screamed in pain (he did not submit verbally or tap out) after Filho locked in an armbar. Sonnen created the inevitable ruckus following the decision and a rematch was originally penciled in for WEC 33. But Filho, who was struggling with substance abuse, had to be checked into rehab and the fight was called off.
When Sonnen's second title shot was finalized, his relief was short lived because Filho came in almost 7 pounds overweight and it was changed to a non-title match. Despite going into the fight with a broken right arm, Sonnen faced almost no adversity from Filho who was rambling, looking dazed and at one point, even begged the star wrestler to take him down so that he could catch his breath! Some fan forums said Filho had entered the spirit realm. Sonnen stated in a later interview that he believed Filho had lost the will to fight. Unsurprisingly, Sonnen was awarded the win and a guilt-ridden Filho would later ship him the belt.
Any interest then-UFC matchmaker Joe Silva had in both Sonnen and Filho was replaced with disgust. The UFC Hall of Famer decided he wanted nothing to do with either of them, but upon hearing that Sonnen fought with a broken arm, Silva welcomed him back to the UFC.