Weight cutting remains one of MMA’s unsolved problems. A recent move to push weigh in times to earlier in the day has been hailed universally by fighters as a good move that gives them more time to rehydrate. But, it’s also appears to have led to more fighters missing weight, and more fights getting cancelled because of it. And because of that, the UFC is electing – against the wishes of their athletes – to go back to a classic late-afternoon weigh in schedule.
Even for fighters who put themselves through brutal weight cuts, and could potentially use every extra minute possible to shed pounds, the UFC’s latest change of course hasn’t been popular.
“Experienced early weigh ins for the first time the other week,” UFC welterweight Craig White wrote in a post on Twitter. “There is a huge benefit to them and my hydration was drastically better with the extra time given. More shows should adopt this.”
White’s statement is notable because, as he revealed in a recent interview with MMA Fighting, his weight cut for his debut bout against Neil Magny in Liverpool was massive. White hit the scales at 171 lbs for his short notice bout against the top ranked UFC veteran, but when he got the call to take the fight, just two weeks earlier, he was tipping 216 lbs.
“In that moment, the Redmond cut was the first thing that crossed my mind,” said White, referring to his bout against John Redmond, where he cut 37 lbs in just nine days. “At that stage, I was out of camp and I was the heaviest I’d ever been. All I could hear in my head was, ‘You’re 98 kilos (216-pounds) — what the f*ck are you doing?’ Two seconds later I accepted the fight.”
After accepting the fight, White went on a 600 calorie a day diet, and after seeing video of Darren Till’s brutal weight cut for the same event – where Till failed to hit the mark by 3.5 lbs – he revealed that his own process “would have made Till’s look easy.”
“I was doing two 15-minute baths for every hour. I started at eight at night and I didn’t go asleep until two in the morning. Then I got up at five in the morning and I did another four baths. Normally I can do 82 kilos (180-pounds) to 77 kilos (170-pounds) in five or six baths, but it took me 14 [baths] in total to hit weight in Liverpool.”
Afterward, however, White says that the extra time to rehydrate made a world of difference. Despite putting himself through one of the hardest weight cuts of his career – and one that he hopes to never go through again – the Lion’s Den fighter says he never felt better by fight day than he did against Magny.
“I think it’s a bad idea based on the experience I had in Liverpool,” White said when asked about getting rid of early weigh ins. “I had got down to that weight and my body was absolutely ruined at that stage, but because I had so much time to rehydrate, it was the best I’ve ever felt on a fight day. I was back up to about 92 kilos (202-pounds) by fight day,” White said.
“The only thing I had to sacrifice because of the early weigh-ins was a bit of sleep, but that was fine because I was able to have a nap during the day to make up for it. The thing is, the night before the weigh-in you never get a good sleep because you’re so dehydrated. [Getting rid of the early weigh-in] just doesn’t make sense to me.”
White’s sentiments seem to be echoed by the vast majority of the UFC’s roster. However, UFC president Dana White seems to have his mind made up already. While that may mean more fighters hit their marks on the scale, it also sounds like it will also mean that they feel less healthy stepping into the cage afterward.