UFC Prague features several fighters who have found success after moving up in weight classes including Thiago Santos and Michel Prazeres.
Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight,‘ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters even in excess of 30 pounds.
Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, we will shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups. Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game in the UFC.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos (20-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC)
Thiago Santos has won seven of his last eight fights. After a first round loss to David Branch in April of 2018, the Brazilian laid low for a few months. Santos had been on a four-fight win streak, smashing very game opponents in the dangerous middleweight division. Santos had even scored a performance bonus for his stoppage win against future light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith in his fight right before the loss. However, redemption would come in a surprising way when, later in 2018, Santos was called on to save the day. The main event of UFC Sao Paulo fell through and Thiago got the call to headline in his home country. There was just one thing, it was at 205-pounds instead of 185, where Thiago occupied his entire professional mixed martial arts career. Thiago said goodbye to weight cutting and made one of the largest jumps between weight classes in the UFC. Thiago went from the middleweight class at 185-pounds to the light heavyweight class of 205-pounds. The Brazillan would beat up a very tired, late-notice replacement in Eryk Anders. Eryk retired at the end of the third round when he was too battered and exhausted to continue. It was a great, feel-good win for Thiago Santos and the fight would win Fight of the Night honors.
Thaigo is 6-feet tall and possesses a 76″ reach with a very thick build. Santos is not the largest guy in the middleweight division and definitely gives up some size and reach at light heavyweight. The Brazilian has never missed weight at 185, but there is no doubt that his body was being compromised by the cut and his decision to stay at light heavyweight perfectly illustrates that. The last time Thiago was on the canvas, he rinsed Jimi Manuwa with punches until the Brit was knocked unconscious at UFC 231. The entire fight was an absolute all-out assault by both men. Santos is an incredibly violent fighter with vicious striking and out of his last eight fights, only one has gone to decision.
O @TMarretaMMA mandou muito bem em sua última luta, quando nocauteou Jimi Manuwa. Neste sábado (23), o brasileiro 🇧🇷 faz a luta principal do #UFCPraga contra Jan Blachowicz. pic.twitter.com/lTxBmlVtT8
— UFC Brasil (@UFCBrasil) February 20, 2019
Marcos “Pezao” Rogerio de Lima (16-5-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima has had quite the UFC career. Marcos has not only struggled multiple times to make weight but also popped for an out-of-competition drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2017. Marcos was later cleared of intentional use of the PED’s as it was believed that he had taken a tainted supplement. But the ordeal still took Marcos out of a fight and six months out of his career. Lima fought in the light heavyweight division and struggled mightily to make weight. The Brazilian is an absolute unit and stands at 6’2” with a 75” reach. Lima weighed in at 209.6-pounds for his bout against Jeremy Kimball in January 2017. Even though Marcos won the bout in the first round, the wind was taken out of his sails on account of him being ineligible for performance bonuses because he had missed weight.
The weight-cutting struggles at light heavyweight would continue for Lima, but this time it would not come with a win too. Lima took on division staple Ovince St. Preux just three months later and again missed weight. This time his weight was at 210. OSP dispatched the Brazilian with his patented Von Flue Choke in the second round. Following this fight the whole PEDs thing happened and effectively ended the Brazilian’s year. The next time the fans saw Marcos, not only was he in the heavyweight division, but he weighed in at a whopping 253.2-pounds. Marcos was not out of shape either, he went the entire three rounds to a unanimous decision against a 10-1 Adam Wieczorek. Adam only weighed in at 232.2-pounds, but is 6’5” and has an 81” reach, much bigger than that Marcos.
Marcos is obviously undersized for heavyweight but that doesn’t mean that he will be ineffective. The weight class is from 207-pounds all the way up to 265. Marcos was practically killing himself to get down to light heavyweight to gain an advantage and he only went 3-3 in the UFC at that weight. Now at heavyweight again, he is a lot more replenished and looks much better but he has to solve a literal giant in 7-foot tall, 265-pound, Stefan Struve, who also has an almost 10 inch reach advantage over Lima, 10 whole years with the organization, and is the absolute largest heavyweight that the UFC division has to offer.
Michel “Tractor” Prazeres (26-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC)
To say that Michel Prazeres has had weight cutting issues in the past would be a huge understatement. The Brazilian’s UFC career as of late, has been completely centered around them to say the least before he decided to make the change and move up in weight.
Back in 2013, Prazeres was a welterweight and took his first professional loss in his debut fight in the UFC. After that, Michel made the decision to move down to lightweight and has struggled immensely ever sense. In September of 2016, Prazeres weighed in at 158-pounds, when he had to be under the 156-pound limit for the lightweight division, for his bout against Gilbert Burns. In September of 2017, Michel missed weight again coming in at 159 for his third-round submission win over Mads Burnell. But the final straw came in February of last year, when Michel stepped on the scale at a whopping 161 against Desmond Green. On fight night, Prazeres weighed something to the tune of 180-pounds, and for his next fight, was forced to move up to welterweight.
Tractor is a fitting nickname for the Brazilian as he stands at 5’6″ tall possesses at 69.5″ reach, but is absolutely jacked. It explains a lot about how it was so hard for Prazeres to make 155. Although he is short, his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills are absolutely world class and can make up for his height and reach disadvantage.
In the two fights since the move back up, Michel has looked phenomenal. Prazeres picked up a split decison win over Zak Cummings in his first fight back and then a first-round guillotine choke against Bartosz Fabinski a few months later. The move up was a great decision for the Brazilian, as at the age of 37 and 19 years into his career, he will likely never be able to make the 156lbs. weight for a fight ever again.