Middleweight debutante Anthony Johnson (10-3) this morning tipped the scale closer to light heavyweight, coming in at the UFC 142: Rio weigh in a big 12 pounds (5.44kgs) overweight and at risk of not fighting.
While it has been common for fighters to miss weight, with Nate Diaz needing an extra hour to lose a required pound at UFC 141, it is very uncommon that a fighter has been more suited to fight in the next weight class.
Luckily for Johnson, competitor Vitor Belfort (20-9) has agreed to the fight (generally the other fighter can decide whether the fight will or won’t go ahead in this situation) on the provision that Johnson does not break 205 pounds, making it difficult for Johnson to rehydrate in preparation for the fight.
While it seems unprofessional as fighters are aware of the weight they must be upon entering the fight, weight cuts are definitely one of the worst aspects of a fighter’s preparation for an event.
The cut generally takes the entire last week of the training camp to effectively make the ideal weight with little risk to the body and generally involves limited food and liquid intake, salt baths, saunas and sweat suits – anything that encourages the body to disperse excess liquid.
Medical examiners are on hand to make sure athletes’ aren’t affecting organs such as the liver and kidneys, and will at times rule that no more weight can be cut further for fear of permanent damage.
For the moment news has been coming out of the Johnson camp indicating that Johnson himself fell ill three hours before the scheduled weigh in, and had been on track to make the 185 pounds required.
Apparently, the UFC doctors decided that Johnson needed to rehydrate and gave him liquids which resulted in the weight increase.
It will be interesting to see how this event has affected Johnson’s psyche going into the bout with Vitor Belfort; especially given it is in Belfort’s home country.
Additionally the troubled weight cut may physically impact his strength and cardio. It may be expected that we see a sluggish Johnson in the cage.
For the future Johnson must re-evaluate the decision to fight at middleweight and look at the light heavyweight division, especially if the cutting of weight is causing permanent damage.