Cutting down to the right weight is a gruesome process in itself. It leaves the bodies of the UFC fighters depleted and dehydrated by the time they end up on the scales.
Moreover, taking one's body through the process of weight cutting time and again has long term implications as well. But making weight is an inseparable part of Mixed Martial Arts, and therefore, of UFC.
Every fighter scheduled to compete on a Fight Night or at a PPV event has to step onto the scale the day before and weigh in within the stipulated limit of the respective weight class at which the fight is taking place.
But what happens when a fighter misses weight? Let's find out.
What happens when a UFC fighter misses weight the first time?
The last few days leading up to the weigh-in are crucial for making the weight in time, especially the last 24 hours. This is when the fighters often starve or dehydrate themselves or take the help of sweatsuits and saunas to shed the last remaining bit of water weight.
If a fighter misses weight the first time they step onto the scale on the day of the weigh-in, they usually get a couple of hours to shed the extra pounds and weigh in within the limit the second time around.
The process is as draining as it sounds, but there have been quite a few instances where fighters successfully made weight in those one or two hours between the two weigh-ins.
What happens when a UFC fighter misses weight the second time?
There is no third chance in UFC when it comes to weigh-ins, which is why a lot of fighters who are not sure of making weight strip down and stand behind a towel to get rid of any extra pound on the scale.
But even then if someone misses weight, there are certain repercussions.
Most fighters miss weight nominally - by a pound or a half. The other fighter holds the right to refuse to fight in the case of their opponent missing weight, but most fighters do not go down that lane unless the weight difference is a lot.
If the opponent agrees to fight, the bout takes place at catchweight. The fighter who missed weight is fined 20% of their match purse - 30% if the difference is bigger - and the amount is awarded to their opponent for agreeing to the fight. The percentage is mutually agreed upon by UFC and the athletic commission supervising the event.
What happens in the case of a Championship bout?
Given how hard-earned title shots are in UFC, missing weight for Championship bouts can be quite heartbreaking. Unlike non-title bouts, which allow the grace of a pound for the fighters, Championship fights have no such advantage.
For example, a fighter defending or challenging for the Lightweight belt must weigh in at 155 pounds.
So if a fighter misses weight even by half a pound, they will not be eligible for the Championship or Interim belt even if they win the fight.
UFC has seen its share of missed weights before title fights. Among the most infamous incidents of such nature is perhaps the one involving Joe Riggs. Hoping to challenge Matt Hughes for the Welterweight belt, Riggs missed weight the first time by one pound.
Riggs weighed in at 171 pounds. When he returned half hour later, the scales showed that he had actually gained a pound. The fight was eventually announced a non-title bout, even though Hughes went on to submit Riggs in the first round.
Post-Fight Bonus Eligibility
Missing weights has yet another consequence - not being eligible for the UFC Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night bonuses.
A fighter who has missed weight can be part of the Fight of the Night honors, as it is rewarded to a fight and not to an individual. But they will not be eligible to receive the cash bonus. The amount would instead go to his opponent once again.
The Performance of the Night bonus, which is awarded to individual fighters, is completely off the table.
Even though it is considered to be unprofessional and frowned upon, weight miss can happen to anyone once in a blue moon. However, if it continues to be a problem, UFC can ask the fighter to move up a division.
Kelvin Gastelum missed the Welterweight mark by nine pounds before UFC made him move up to Middleweight. He was allowed to go back down, but after a no-show at the weigh-ins against Donald Cerrone, he was permanently moved up to Middleweight.