This is a question that has been argued about in the mixed martial arts community ever since the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier has made his intentions clear to drop down to face the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Bones Jones once he joins the ranks of the UFC. His desire to drop to light heavyweight to face Jones became even more apparent after Cormier’s destruction of Dion Staring during Strikeforce’s final event last Saturday. Cormier called out Frank Mir then subsequently called out Jones. Now the question becomes: can Cormier, a heavyweight who has weighed up to 251 pounds during his MMA career, make the cut to 205? This article will argue that Cormier will easily make 205 if he and Jones are ever slated to meet.
People who doubt Cormier’s ability to cut point out two main reasons why he will not be able to make the cut to 205. These reasons are his previous kidney troubles and his dedication and desire make to the weight cut.
Daniel Cormier wrestled at 96 kg (211 pounds) during his international career. He suffered near kidney failure from his weight cut at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The kidney issue caused him to have to pull out of the games, which was disappointing because Cormier was favored to reach the finals as the second seed in the 96 kg division. This kidney issue was not a chronic issue and Cormier admits that he did not cut the weight properly, which led to his hospitalization. He talks about it at length in this video. As long as he does his weight cut to 205 the previous kidney issue will be a moot point. There is also a major difference between the weigh-ins in mixed martial arts and amateur wrestling, which I will touch on later in this article.
Secondly, people have questioned Cormier’s desire to eat healthy and motivation to cut due his flabby physique at heavyweight. No matter what combat sport you are in, if you are talented enough to avoid being overpowered by the competition at a heavier weight then there is absolutely no need to cut weight (he is only moving down now because the UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is his training partner). Since Cormier was dominating the Strikeforce heavyweight division he had no incentive to move down, and I believe that Cormier’s heavier weight was intentional and an advantage for him while he competed at heavyweight.
Cormier base is wrestling and in many fights he relies on his ability to take his opponents down and wear them out with his superior grappling. Heavyweights because of their size gas faster than the other weight classes, and Cormier extra weight, whether it is fat or muscles, allows more weight to be applied to his opponents while in top position. This extra weight wears down his opponents because the more weight that is applied to a person’s chest the harder the lungs have to work to get oxygen to the muscles. This gasses Cormier’s opponents quicker so the extra weight helps Cormier despite the fact he does not look like Alistair Overeem or Brock Lesnar when he competes at heavyweight. He is not flabby because he is unmotivated or not dedicated.
I think many people’s skepticism to Cormier making the cut is that they do not understand how weight cutting works. Weight cutting is not losing weight in the conventional sense because the athlete wants the weight to come back immediately after he steps off the scales. The most important factor of how much weight can be cut, outside of a person’s size and body frame, is the time between the weigh-in and competition. Cormier had kidney issues because he tried to cut 25 pounds (236-211) a couple of days before the fight. The main way he tried to accomplish that was by running and sitting in a sauna and taking 20 pounds off by sweating, and maybe 5 pounds due to his calories burned. In MMA with the weigh-ins being the day before so a fighter may be able to get away with cutting the day before but in amateur wrestling there is only about 2-3 hours at most between the weigh-ins and competition so Cormier's kidney would basically enter a state of shock due to him trying to rehydrate 20 pounds in a two hours span. Cormier has admitted trying to make that drastic of a weight cut was stupid and it potentially cost him a gold medal at the Olympics, the pinnacle of amateur wrestling.
The right way for Cormier to have cut the weight is to have gotten down to about 225 two week before the Olympics slow down his eating so he could lose 5 pounds of weight then Cormier sweat off the 9 pounds a couple of days before the weigh-ins. This would allow him to gain back 10 pounds back by rehydrating and eating right after the weigh-in so he would have probably weighed about 220 when he competed. If he had cut weight the right way he would have reduced the strain on his kidneys and probably would have medaled at the Olympic Games.
Cormier is clearly gearing up for a weight cut to 205 due to the fact he weighed 230 in his fight with Staring. Since there is over 24 hours between the weigh-in and the competition a fighter can cut more weight so that he is heavier come fight night. Cormier for his fight with Jones will stay around 230 until about 2-3 weeks before the fight then he will slow down his calorie intake and ramp up his cardio and he will weigh 215-220 a few days out from the fight. He will sweat the 10-15 pounds off before the weigh-ins and he will rehydrate the night before the fight. The more time a person has to rehydrate the less stress is applied to a person’s kidneys. Cormier will, also, be able to eat a big meal of carbs (something amateur wrestlers cannot do because of the time constraints) the night before competition. His body will retain most of the weight Cormier consumes since he has been starving himself for about two weeks up to the fight. Cormier will weigh in about 230 on fight night (so will Jones most likely) and be healthy because he did the cut the right way.
Now another thing that has been bothering me throughout this discussion are the people saying that the reason Cormier wrestled at 211 internationally and not at 185 is because he was too lazy to make the cut. This is not the case and to prove this all anyone needs to do is look at Cormier’s collegiate accomplishments.
Cormier’s collegiate accomplishments
Overall record: 114-10 (5 losses to Cael Sanderson)
61-0 in Junior College
53-10 in NCAA Division I Wrestling
2000 Big 12 Championship runner up to Cael Sanderson
2001 Big 12 Championship runner up to Cael Sanderson
NCAA Division I Championship runner up to Cael Sanderson
Cormier wrestled Cael Sanderson, the only college wrestler to go undefeated in his entire college career (159-0), 5 times in two seasons and was 0-5. Cael Sanderson is the greatest amateur wrestler of all-time so when Cormier began to compete on the international stage he moved up to the next highest weight class, which was 96 kg (211 pounds) . If he had not done this then it is pretty safe to say that he would not have beat Sanderson out for the 84 kg (185 pounds) spot on the US Olympic team. He moved up so he would have an opportunity to be successful on the international level. Here is a video of Cael Sanderson and Daniel Cormier wrestling in the finals of the 2001 NCAA Championships 184 Division.
Thanks for reading! ( I know the last part was a little bit of a tangent, but I felt I had to say it).
*Note the international competition has a 185 pound division while its corresponding weight class in collegiate wrestling is 184.