Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting.com
Full disclosure: I've never had to cut weight.
That being said, from what I've read and heard, it's probably the worst part of being a professional fighter. It's taxing on not only the body but the mind, seemingly draining as much resolve and will as it does water and just about every fighter hates doing it. It's so bad that some of them -- including greats like Mauricio Rua -- fight at a weight class above what would be considered ideal to avoid elongating the process.
But it's a part of the job and it comes with the territory of being a fighter which is why the leniency shown to those who miss weight is baffling to me. Fighters sign a contract -- a legally binding document -- to face an opponent at an agreed upon weight and when one of them breaks that stipulation, a 20% reduction in their purse is the only punishment they receive while the grueling task of shedding those last two or three pounds is left for that other sucker who managed to successfully complete every facet of his job.
Their opponent has the option of turning down the bout but one of the only times that idea was even entertained -- when Cristiane Santos came in overweight for her bout with Hitomi Akano -- Strikeforce threw enough money at the Japanese fighter to make the problem go away. Unfortunately, it's not a good look for a fighter to turn down a bout at the last minute and they're put in the awkward position of having to accept a fight against someone who now has an unfair advantage.
What it boils down to is fighters who miss weight aren't fulfilling their contractual obligations. The punishments must be harsher. Forget taking just a percentage of their pay. Fight promotions should take the whole thing. And while you're at it, a giant "L" on their record would suffice too.
And here's why.
Dennis Hallman walked into the Octagon last night after coming in two and a half pounds over the 156 pound limit and steamrolled his opponent. When something like this happens, I can't help but wonder what led to the outcome. Was it because he was the better fighter? Did he have the perfect strategy melded with the right tools and skills to defeat John Makdessi?
Or was the overweight fighter fresher because he didn't have to subject his body to the rigors of actually cutting down to the proper weight? Those last few pounds are supposed to be the hardest and some fighters might prefer to take the pay cut over subjecting their bodies to future punishment. Despite "Superman's" post-fight comments that the fight was a wash, I can't help but think that he didn't even bother to attempt a second weigh-in.
I wholeheartedly believe that fighters who come in overweight should not only have their entire purse docked but the fight shouldn't even take place. They should take the loss on their record at the scale while their opponent walks away with the win.
Like previously stated, cutting weight -- as awful as it may seem -- is part of the job. Being a professional fighter at the height of the sport involves -- among other things -- harsh training, a strict diet regimen, and yes, cutting weight. When someone drops the ball of any one of those aspects, it's disrespectful to their opponent and to the organization.
Fighters who come in with poor cardio and gas out within minutes get lambasted for their poor training habits. Combatants who step inside the cage with some pudge get railed for not sticking to a proper diet. Where's the outrage for fighters who come in overweight? Because unlike the previous two examples, not having to go through the trouble of sucking out those last extra pounds will actually improve one's performance rather than hinder it.
I can understand that there can be extenuating circumstances. Perhaps a fighter rolls their ankle and can't get in the proper cardo exercise to maintain their weight cut on schedule -- how many times have we heard that one? -- but those situations are few and far between. Besides, they could alert the UFC brass of the situation as soon as possible so that their opponent can agree sooner to a catchweight bout rather than on the spot, half naked in front of hundreds of people.
I'm sick of these so-called professional athletes acting so unprofessionally but as long as the punishment is a simple slap on the wrist, there won't be any reason for them to change.