Ahead of UFC London on Saturday afternoon, we look at both Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal’s history of weight-cutting.
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.
Darren Till (17-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC)
Darren “The Gorilla” Till, unsurprisingly, is a large man. Darren Till is a menacing, young high ranked contender in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division. But Till is also a huge welterweight and has to cut a lot of weight. Till is 6’0″ and possesses a 75” reach. Till burst on the radar of many fans after his first round annihilation of UFC top dog, Donald Cerrone.
THIS is how @DarrenTill stopped Cowboy Cerrone!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 12, 2019
The 26-year-old has repeatedly expressed how much focus it takes for him to get down to 170lbs. Till even admitted that it was distraction and factor in his loss to Tyron Woodley for the UFC welterweight belt. During UFC Face Off, Darren sat across from Jorge Masvidal with Dan Hardy and talked about how worrying about his weight really hurt his mental state for the biggest bout of his career, a championship bout in which he did not throw a single punch:
“No, because I put pressure on myself last time. Because I missed weight for the Wonderboy fight and that was my own problem . And then for the Woodley fight I just put so much pressure on myself. And I wasn’t really worried about Woodley, I was worried about making the weight.”
Age is definitely a factor in Darren Till being able to make the welterweight limit. In the next few years of Till’s career, he can expect to gain a few more pounds as his frame fully fills out, mostly likely forcing him to move up to middleweight or suffer the consequences. Weight sheds less easily from our bodies as we get older and Darren also talked about how he had to approach cutting weight the proper scientific way:
“For the Woodley fight, I learned that proper nutrition getting down to the weight properly. You know like I used to just cut weight in saunas. Like just f*** it, I’ll cut my weight in the sauna. And as you get older and you mature your mentality changes a little bit.”
Darren Till has missed weight for two of his UFC bouts. Against Jessin Ayari in May of 2015 Till tipped the scales a full five pounds over, weighing in at 176lbs. The other time that Till missed weight was an extremely high-pressure situation when Till was the headlining a main event in his hometown against Stephen Thompson. Darren weighed in at 174.5 for this bout and it was in May of 2018. It will only get more difficult for Till to make weight and I believe that he is aware of that and will move up eventually. However, in the meantime, hopefully the weight cut has no more negative consequences.
Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC)
Jorge Masvidal is a seasoned vet and he is as tough as they come and a product of backyard brawls found down the rabbit hole of YouTube 10 years ago. Masvidal has fought some of the toughest names in mixed martial arts history such as Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Micheal Chiesa, and Gilbert Melendez just to name a few. And his calculated boxing and striking is among the best in the UFC.
— LORD HONKY HUMUNGUS (@Mr_Honky) March 13, 2019
Jorge Masvidal fought at lightweight for a long time and even had a lengthy stint in the UFC in the weight class. Jorge had a total of seven lightweight bouts and amassed a record of 5-2. All of these bouts were decisions except a second-round submission against Micheal Chiesa. Jorge Masvidal’s last fight in the lightweight division was in April of 2014 against Al Iaquinta. Jorge suffered a split decision loss in this bout. And the next time Masvidal appeared in the Octagon, three months later, it was at welterweight.
Masvidal’s next eight fights would be at welterweight, in fact. And even though Gamebred’s record in the welterweight division is 4-4, it is very misleading. Of the four losses, three of those bouts (against Benson Henderson, Lorenz Larkin and Demian Maia) were split decision losses. Extremely close competitions that could have gone either way on the judges’ scorecards. And three of his four wins in the division were first or second round stoppages against Cezar Ferreira, Jake Ellenberger, and Donald Cerrone. All of Gamebred’s wins at 170 have had an exclamation mark on them.
Masvidal sat down and talked to both Dan Hardy and Darren Till and offered an interesting piece of insight into his opponent’s psyche. The mindset of someone who had to cut weight and the burden they had to carry both physically and mentally. Masvidal said on UFC Face Off:
“Well like he (Till) said the size may not help him out too much because he cuts a lot of weight. I used to do that at 155lbs. I was a big 55er, and it would slow me down a little bit. And it’s also in the back of your mine like, s*** did I cut too much water? Am I going to have the same gas tank that I did when I was at my regular weight? So I don’t think the size matters too much.”
Masvidal has obviously decided that cutting weight was no longer worth it. And as we have seen before in this series, Jorge’s elimination of this aspect of the game has resulted in better performances for him all around. Even though Gamebred’s record in the UFC’s lightweight division was better than it is currently in the welterweight division, in every performance at welterweight, Masvidal has looked incredibly healthy, fine-tuned, and lethal.