It’s an approach that many considering it highly dangerous, but weight-cutting has become an increasingly common theme among Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitors.
We’ve looked before at the rules behind it (at least, in the UFC) – but what about the numbers? How much weight do UFC fighters cut in one day? Do heavyweights cut weight? What are the biggest UFC weight cuts? We’ll answer all of this and more about the world of weight-cutting below:
Why Do UFC Fighters Cut Weight?
As a general rule, UFC fighters will ‘cut weight’ if they want to fit into a certain weight class before their next bout.
They will attempt to lose enough weight to do so prior to the fight’s weigh-in (usually a day before the fight), before putting at least some of that weight back on again.
Weight-cutting entails reducing your body’s ‘water weight’. To achieve this, fighters may stop eating and drinking, run around more, sleep wrapped in duvets and plastic or spend a long time in saunas.
They may also eat meals high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, starches or sugar, gradually drink less and less water, or live on an entirely salt-free diet.
This, of course, is a dangerous practice and can hinder these skeletal-looking fighters’ ability to fight properly, as well as carrying the potential for longer-team health risks.
How Much Weight Do UFC Fighters Normally Cut?
Fighters can lose up to 30 lbs during the final 48 hours before a fight, and are given 24 hours to rehydrate after a weigh-in for a professional bout.
In terms of strictness on categorising fighters by weight class, fighters cannot weigh more than one pound more than the limit for non-title bouts, whereas for title fights they cannot be more than half a pound above the maximum.
How Much Weight Does Conor McGregor Cut At Lightweight?
Arguably UFC’s headline act, McGregor’s natural weight class has long been seen as lightweight (155 lbs), but he has cut weight before to become a featherweight, a class he became champion of in 2015.
For this fight – UFC 194 versus José Aldo – McGregor dropped to an alarming 145 lbs. Just a year later, he was fighting Nate Diaz in a welterweight bout at 170 lbs.
How Much Weight Does Khabib Cut?
As for another of the competition’s biggest names, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the current UFC Lightweight Champion, with 28 wins and no losses to his name in the longest active streak in MMA.
But despite dominating the lightweight division, Khabib’s optimal weight, according to his father, is closer to 175 lbs. During time off, he will weigh roughly 185 lbs, too; that’s a lot of pounds to shed in a short space of time.
Then again, Khabib has also been known to put as much back on as possible after weigh-ins, which no doubt gives him a physical edge over his opponents more often than not.
Which UFC Fighters Cut the Most Weight?
- In November 2013, Ronda Rousey lost 17 pounds in 24 hours to make a point about how crazy weight-cutting is. While filming season 18 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, she supposedly spent five hours in a sauna to show a contestant who had missed weight just what it was like.
- Darren Till was so determined to make the UFC welterweight limit before his 2018 bout with Stephen Thompson that he collapsed and even lost his vision, as well as dropping as much as 2.5 kg in one night:
- Jorge Masvidal almost passed out during his intense weight cut for his fight at UFC 251 with Kamaru Usman in July 2020, losing 20 lbs in a mere six days.
- Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao previously cut between 30 and 40 lbs before fights, to the point where, prior to his scheduled rematch with TJ Dillashaw in August 2014, Barao passed out from dehydration.
- Anthony Johnson, renowned as one of UFC’s greatest light heavyweights, used to cut to the welterweight class; an enormous drop of between 50 and 60 lbs.
- Cris Cyborg, the current Bellator Women’s Featherweight World champion, went from 175 to 140 lbs before one of her early UFC fights, which involved an excruciating loss of 26 lbs in three days:
Do All Fighters Cut Weight?
No, but it’s becoming increasingly and almost dangerously common. Unlike when UFC first started, and certainly before the introduction of weight classes in 1997, fighters now know everything about everyone. This makes it harder for smaller fighters to know a discipline their opponent might not know. Weight-cutting, then, is seen as a great equaliser.
“I hate weight cutting,” MMA fighter Kyle Stewart told Arizona Sports in 2018. “I think they need to do away with it. But at the same time, it hardens your mind for battle, and that’s the benefit. Other than that, I look forward to the day where I don’t have to do it anymore.”
Do UFC Heavyweights Cut Weight?
Yes, but it’s more rare to find them. Given they are naturally in the higher echelons physically, there is less of a need for them to adapt and their skillset potentially lends itself to a career with greater longevity, too.
Certain heavyweights who have previously been known to cut weight, though, include Mark Hunt, who cut 18 lbs to make the heavyweight limit for 2014’s UFC Fight Night 52, and Stefan Struve, who cut to 265 lbs for his 2015 bout with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Does Jon Jones Cut Weight (For Light Heavyweight)?
Yes; the man whose ‘walk-around weight’ exceeds 230 lbs cuts weight in order to compete in the light heavyweight division, despite many believing it’s time for Jones to step up to the heavyweight class.
Take a look below at Jones, joking about having only spent 20 minutes in a steam room, at the weigh-in for UFC 247 in February 2020: