What Happens When a UFC Fighter Does Not Make Weight?

UFC competitors, as you surely know if you are a combat sports fan, must make weight to participate. This implies that you are officially under the weight class limit needed to participate in the fight. Also, it’s sad when a boxer fails to make weight. 

There are, of course, consequences to losing weight. In this article, we will answer the question: “What happens if a UFC fighter fails to make weight?” Apart from this, we will also be covering other important topics related to weighting in the UFC.

When a UFC fighter fails to make weight, they are fined 20% or 30% of their pay, which is given to their opponent. If the bout was for a championship, the fighter who failed to make weight will be ineligible to compete for the title.

If a fighter fails to make weight on many occasions, they may be forced to move up in weight or be removed from the UFC.

We will go through the ramifications of losing weight and why it happens in the rest of this article, but before anything, let us start with the rules of weight limits.

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Rules Related to Weight Limits in the UFC

On the morning of the bout, each UFC competitor must weigh in at or below the weight class they are competing for. They can’t weigh more than one pound over the limit in non-title fights, but they can’t weigh more than half a pound over the limit in title fights.

In certain areas, such as California, you are not allowed to lose more than 10% of your healthy, hydrated weight. This ten-point strategy, for example, was adopted in California in 2017 to help ease severe weight loss. 

Let’s see what the rules are:

  • Before authorizing bouts, MMA athletes must choose the lowest weight class to compete, and concerns concerning weight reduction and dehydration must be answered. On a licensee’s papers, a physician must certify that the listed division is safe.
  • A competitor who fails to make weight will be penalized 20% of their prize money. The commission receives half of this, while their opponent receives the other half. A fine of 20% of their victory bonus will be imposed as well.
  • There are four more weight classes: 165, 175, 195, and 205 pounds.
  • Changes to the way matches are sanctioned, with a focus on suitable weight classes.
  • Weight class limitations for fighters who have higher weight (than their weight category) more than once: They may have to participate in a higher weight class until a doctor certifies it is safe and the board agrees.
  • Early weigh-in procedures were maintained to provide the most opportunity to rehydrate.
  • A second weight-in on the day of the fight to verify that combatants haven’t gained more than 10% of their body weight back. Those who gain too much weight may be required to move up a weight class.
  • Dehydration testing by specific urine gravity and/or a physical examination by a CSAC doctor. For ‘high-level championship battles, a 30-day and ten-day weight check is recommended.

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Consequences of Losing Weight

I’ve already discussed the fundamental penalties for missing weight, but now I’d want to go over them in further depth. Let’s start with the penalties a boxer can face.

Penalties

It is usual for a boxer to be penalized 20% of their prize money if they miss weight. The remaining 20% is given to the fighter’s opponent. The UFC, in collaboration with the Athletic Commission for the state in which the bout takes place, has settled on this proportion.

However, in some circumstances, a fighter may face a fine of 30% rather than the standard 20%. This happens when a boxer misses weight by a substantial amount, generally more than two pounds. However, this is a case-by-case decision that must be made by both the UFC and the sanctioning authority for the bout.

Championship Disqualification

Non-championship fights feature a one-pound weight allowance, which means a fighter can be one pound over the weight class limit and still be deemed on-weight. The boxer must, however, weigh no more than the precise limit for a championship battle.

For example, in a Middleweight Championship bout, the fighter cannot exceed 185 pounds. Missing the championship limit means you’re out of the running for the championship.

Post-Fight Bonuses

So, we’ve gone over the penalties and eligibility for championship status. What are fight bonuses, though?

Yes, while discussing the effects of losing weight, this is something that is sometimes neglected. If you didn’t know, the UFC gives out post-fight bonuses to fighters who put in good performances.

The two prizes are “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night,” respectively which goes to both fighters. Bonuses are not available to fighters who do not make weight. They are not eligible for “Performance of the Night.”

“Fight of the Night” (FOTN) is a little different. The Fight of the Night bonus is generally given to the two combatants who put on the best performance, with each of them receiving $50,000. So, what does it imply if a boxer doesn’t make weight?

If a boxer misses weight, their bout will still be considered for Fight of the Night, but only their opponent will be eligible for the monetary prize. As if that weren’t enough, the $50,000 that would have gone to the fighter who missed weight goes to their opponent, resulting in their opponent receiving $100,000 while the fighter who missed weight receives nothing.

So far, we’ve gone through all of the immediate consequences of missing weight, which include getting fined, being ineligible for the championship, and losing post-fight bonuses.

Let’s take a look at what happens when a boxer consistently fails to make weight.

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What Happens When a Fighter Misses Weight Time After Time?

When a boxer is unable to make weight consistently, there are a variety of implications. There are only two possible outcomes: the fighter is forced to move up a weight class or gets removed from the UFC. 

Let’s take a look at what the UFC needs to make these judgments.

Forcing You To Move Up

We will start with forcing a boxer to move up in weight because it’s less severe than removing them from the promotion. Kelvin Gastelum was forced to go up to Middleweight (185) after missing weight many times at Welterweight, as an example (170).

Expelled from the UFC

Let’s look at a situation where a boxer is dropped from promotion due to their inability to make weight. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, who most recently participated in the Light-Heavyweight category before retiring, was one of them.

Johnson began his career as a Welterweight, 170 pounds, which is unexpected given his desire to fight again at Heavyweight, 265 pounds. Anyway, he missed weight in several contests early in his career. Although they were both by roughly 6 pounds, the UFC let him stay at Welterweight.

Johnson decided to go up to Middleweight on his own. So it came as a shock to everyone when Johnson weighed in at 197 pounds for his first Middleweight weight-in, 11 pounds over the limit. “This is his third time,” Dana White said after Johnson’s failed weigh-in. You’re out after three strikes.” After losing the bout, Johnson was dropped from the promotion.

What Is the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between a fighter who is forced to move up and a guy who is cut from the UFC? 

It simply depends on how important the fighter is to the UFC. If they’re more valued, pushing a combatant to gain weight could be all that’s required to maintain them. If the fighter is less valued, their inconsistency in making weight is enough to get them kicked out of the UFC.

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Summary

In summary, if a boxer misses weight, they are penalized 20% or 30% of their prize money, which is given to their opponent. Fighters who don’t make weight aren’t eligible for title status or bonus fights. A boxer who misses weight regularly may be forced to go up in weight, and in rare circumstances, they may be dismissed from the promotion.

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