It took a drama-filled extra hour, but Saturday night’s UFC interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee is on.
Lee initially weighed in Friday for the UFC 216 main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 156 pounds, one more than the title-fight limit for lightweight.
Ferguson made weight on his first attempt, hitting 155 on the nose.
The Nevada Athletic Commission then announced Lee would have another hour to cut the weight in accordance with protocol. With two minutes left until deadline, Lee, who had said Thursday he had 19 pounds to cut, weighed in at 154.5 pounds on his second attempt and the UFC 216 main event became official.
After Lee’s successful second attempt, NAC executive director Bob Bennett explained that the second attempt was consistent with commission regulations. If cleared by a doctor, a fighter within a pound or two can be granted an extra hour to make weight in Nevada. This goes for both title and non-title fights, he said.
“I have to have the approval from my doctor that yes, this fighter can in fact afford to lose one more pound,” Bennett said. “Two doctors cleared him to lose one more pound, and he made his weight. And that’s in accordance with our [regulations].”
The fighter has an hour from the time they see the doctor to make weight, Bennett said.
“They would have an hour once my doctor evalutated him,” Bennett said. “The doctor finished evaluating Kevin Lee at 11:15, he had to be back here no later than 12:15, and that’s what happened. And the doctor has to make sure, because there have been times we haven’t allowed a fighter to lose those two pounds.”
That’s just according to our regulations and most importantly the doctor if someone misses the weight. They have to see the doctor and the doctor has to agree on it.
The near-miss continued a string of weird events that have occurred for opponents of Ferguson. Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov were scheduled to meet at UFC 209, but the latter was pulled from the planned fight in Las Vegas the day before after a weigh cut gone awry, with Ferguson being pulled from the show. At UFC Fight Night 91 in the summer of 2016, Ferguson was supposed to meet Michael Chiesa, but after a Chiesa inury, Lando Vannata was a late replacement. Ferguson won that fight in the second round.
Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov was also scheduled on two other occasions, but Nurmagomedov pulled out of their TUF 22 Finale fight due to an injury and Ferguson pulled out of their fight planned for UFC on FOX 19. A Ferguson-Michael Johnson bout for UFC 196 was also scrapped when the latter suffered an injury.