***UPDATE: A statement from ONE Championship’s competition and medical team has been received since the original time of publishing.***
Meng Bo’s ONE 164 experience in Manila, Philippines was nearly perfect.
Unfortunately for the Chinese knockout artist, Meng fell victim to weight troubles ahead of her originally scheduled 125-pound Strawweight bout against the Phillippines’ Jenelyn Olsim ... At least that’s what appeared to be the case as the former 115-pound competitor weighed in a half pound over the limit and failed her first hydration test, per South China Morning Post.
From her perspective, however, Meng hit her mark.
“There was a lot of miscommunication during the fight week,” Meng told MMA Mania. “Maybe because I didn’t fight for a very long time, my last fight was at the beginning of this year, now it’s December. So, ONE, they may have changed some rules or schedules during the fight week, but nobody told me. I didn’t miss weight. Actually, I made 125 pounds. I only failed the hydration test. But after the weigh-ins, what I was told is that my weight is okay. The only thing I need to do right now is pass the hydration test. So, I think, ‘Okay, my weight is okay, now the only thing I need to work on is rehydrating, drink water.’
“After the faceoff, they told me, ‘Okay, it’s going to be a [130.75-pound] Catchweight bout. You missed both weight and hydration test,’” she continued. “So, there was a lot of confusion during the process. I didn’t miss weight, I made the weight. The only thing I failed was the hydration test.”
In ONE Championship, fighters are subjected to two hydration tests during their fight weeks in the promotion’s effort to ban weight-cutting via extreme dehydration, only one of which — the one during weigh-ins — is visible to the public. A third is required on fight day if the fighter failed one of the previous tests.
Per ONE’s official website: “If an athlete fails the hydration test on event day, he or she is not permitted to compete,” the website reads. “Should an athlete pass the hydration test, but weigh in above the restrictions of the contracted weight class, then the bout may take place at a catchweight — as long as the athlete is within 105 percent of his or her opponent’s official weight, and if the opponent agrees to the bout. Additionally, a percentage of the athlete’s purse will be given to the opponent due to failure to make the contracted weight. Post-bout weight may not exceed five percent over the weight class or Catchweight limit.”
This isn’t Meng’s first rodeo with the promotion or its hydration testing weigh-in process. The problem this time was that she didn’t even get the chance to right the wrongs herself.
“It’s still confusing to me,” Meng said. “This is not my first time fighting in ONE, right? I have fought in ONE five times. But I’m still confused about the rules and they change it all the time. Even for this time, I drank more water than before but still failed the hydration test.
“Before, they also had the second chance to shed the weight so if you miss weight at the weigh-in you also have another chance at midnight but this time they canceled it and nobody told me before they canceled it. They changed a lot and most importantly, nobody told me. No one notified me before the weigh-in or to tell me what to do.”
Meng let out her frustrations on Olsim in their fight with perhaps a career-best performance. Needing only 24 seconds, Meng iced her hometown adversary with a picture-perfect right hand, following it up with vicious ground and pound elbows to earn the knockout.
ONE Founder and President, Chatri Sityodtong, has begun handing out $50,000 bonuses to those he deems worthy of the reward with no limit to how many are handed out per event. After such a flawless win, no one would have argued with Meng being a recipient.
Due to the weight mishap, however, the 26-year-old was ineligible for the bonus and still has no idea what happened ahead of her bout.
“There is no explanation at all,” Meng said. “They refuse to communicate with us and explain to us what happened, why they canceled it. Even after the faceoff, they just came to me and told me, ‘Okay, you have to choose to fight the fight at the Catchweight or we cancel this fight and you have to pay 20 percent of your purse to your opponent.’ Nobody told me anything and explained anything to me. I was the person they told the only option is Catchweight and a 20 percent purse deduction, or cancel the fight.”
Meng Bo KOs Jenelyn Olsim in 24 seconds at ONE 164 pic.twitter.com/THPPBO0QgC— Will (@ChillemDafoe) December 3, 2022
MMA Mania reached out to ONE Championship regarding getting in touch with someone who could address the matter. The response noted that the hydration and weigh-in process is conducted by ONE’s “competition and medical team.” In Jan. 2022, the promotion’s competition committee was reportedly disbanded after controversy surrounding decisions getting overturned, via South China Morning Post. Stay tuned to MMA Mania for any further comments and updates.
UPDATE: ONE Championship’s competition and medical team provided the following statement earlier today (Weds., Dec. 14, 2022).
“Weight and hydration began at 1:00 P.M. local time (Pasay, Phillippines) for ONE 164. Meng Bo was the last athlete to report to the official weight and hydration tests for her first attempt, coming down with less than 10 minutes left in the three-hour window. She was in a bathrobe and clearly looked to have been trying to lose weight through sweating.
“Her sample was tested by our doctor and the reading was 1.0295 (did not pass). Upon checking her weight, Meng Bo removed all of her clothing and weighed in at 125.5 pounds, over the contractual weight of 125 pounds, but still not hydrated. Meng Bo was unable to provide a hydrated sample within the three-hour window and therefore did not make the contracted weight. After the three-hour window, she was able to provide a hydrated sample (1.0237) but weighed 130.75 pounds, and was therefore eligible for a Catchweight fight with her opponent.”