The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC St. Petersburg – UFC Debut?…Come on Down!

Alexander Yakovlev UFC St. Petersburg
Credit: Dave Mandel/

UFC St. Petersburg features several fighters who have fluctuated weight classes in their career.

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.

Ever notice the large amount of fighters that have huge success in their MMA careers at a heavier weight-class in different promotions, but when they enter the UFC, they immediately drop down an extra weight class?

Alexander “The Thunder of the North” Yakovlev (24-9-1 MMA, 2-4  UFC)

The UFC has not been kind to Alexander Yakovlev or his record. Even though Alexander is 6’1″ and possesses a 74″ reach he has still had a very hard time. Out of his six UFC fights, five of them have been at the welterweight class of 170lbs. Alexander has fought nothing but top-level competition at welterweight, with losses against guys like Demian Maia, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, and in his last bout, Zak Cummings.

Alexander has been inactive as of late, with his last bout against Cummings taking place in November of 2016. Two and a half years without a professional fight is a long time, but it has been even longer since Alexander has won in the lightweight division. You’d have to go back to his fight against Gray Maynard in April of 2015, more than four years ago. At UFC St. Petersburg, Alexander Yakovlev is again going down to the lightweight division and is absolutely desperate for a win to prove that he still belongs in the promotion.

Movsar Evloev (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)

Movsar is a young, 25-year-old, undefeated prospect looking to making his UFC debut at UFC St. Petersburg. Out of Movsar’s 10 professional fights, six of them have been at 135lbs. Two of the other fights that Movsar has had have been catch-weight bouts around 140. And the other two fights that Movsar has had have been at 145, which is the weight class where he will make his UFC debut. Movsar is breaking the trend of moving down for his promotional debut and is instead electing to move away from an extreme weight cut that he obviously has struggled with in the past. Evloev has looked explosive, exciting in extremely promising in each of his fights and in his last bout, he won the M-1 Global Bantamweight Championship.

Note: Article was written before the Clark-Shtyrkov fight was canceled.

Devin “Brown Bear” Clark (9-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC)

Devin Clark’s first fight in the UFC was at 185lbs. Before his UFC debut, Devin had been fighting at 205 for the entirety of his professional mixed martial arts career. When Devin made his UFC debut he had only five fights under his belt and he was making the 205-pound weight limit very easily, almost too easily.

Devin is an undersized light heavyweight and not even a large middleweight, standing at 6-feet tall and possessing a 75″ reach. Clark used a tactic that is very common with most fighters entering the UFC, and that is dropping down a weight class in his debut. However, this tactic did not work in Brown Bear’s favor. Clark lost his UFC debut by first-round stoppage and was forced to reevaluate his weight-cutting strategy. Since this fight, Devin has beefed up his physique and fully filled out his body at light heavyweight. Devin has lost most recently top-ranked Jan Blachowicz in a barn-burner, and to rising prospect Aleksandar Rakic. Devin Clark is welcoming undefeated UFC newcomer Ivan Shtyrkov to the Octagon. Devin will be giving up quite the size advantage as his opponent is a former heavyweight.

Ivan “Ural Hulk” Shtyrkov (16-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)

Ivan Shtyrkov is set to make his promotional debut at UFC St. Petersburg in the light heavyweight division against Devin Clark. Ivan is 30-years-old and an absolute tank of a man standing at just 6’0″ but with an extremely muscular build. Shtyrkov has had only four professional fights at 205. All of his other fights have been in the heavyweight division. And for the majority of Ivan’s heavyweight fights, he weighed in at right around about 235 pounds. In Ivan’s second to last fight, he missed weight by close to 10-pounds weighing in at 215.5 pounds for a light heavyweight bout. Ivan is another newcomer that has elected to drop a weight class once entering the promotion.


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