The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC 238 – Flyweight Focus (and Cowboy)

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Valentina Shevchenko UFC 238
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

We look at the top three fights of UFC 238 from a weight-cutting perspective as they all feature fighters who’ve fought in multiple weight classes.

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.

Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo (14-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC)

Henry Cejudo is one of the most accomplished fighters in the UFC, on paper at least. Not only is Cejudo an Olympic gold medalist but in his two most recent fights he defeated the greatest of all time, Demetrious Johnson, and one of the best bantamweights of all time, TJ Dillashaw. Cejudo is now moving up to bantamweight himself, in an attempt to capture the UFC’s vacant bantamweight championship. The belt was vacated due to Dillashaw testing positive for a PED. Henry had always been a huge flyweight and often struggled to make weight. In fact, Henry had missed weight at flyweight a few times before entering the UFC and entered the promotion at bantamweight back in late 2014. So with the flyweight division of the UFC fading by the day, Henry moving up in weight to attempt become a double champion is definitely the smart career and business move.

Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Jessica “Evil” Eye (14-6 MMA, 4-5 UFC)

Women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is making her first title defense against Jessica Eye at UFC 238. Bullet won the belt in her last fight against long time former straw-weight champion, Joanna Jedrezejczyk, via domination unanimous decision win. The UFC’s women’s flyweight class is just a year and a half old and already shining with high-level matchups. Valentina Shevchenko had fought at bantamweight in the Octagon before the creation of the flyweight division. Shevchenko’s only real losses in the UFC are to Amanda Nunes, one of the greatest pound for pound fighters ever, who she gives up a tremendous amount of weight to. Save for these two losses, Bullet has looked absolutely unstoppable in the cage and even better at flyweight.

Outside of the UFC, Eye had accumulated a 13-1 flyweight record but things changed when she was called up to the top level promotion. Eye fought in the bantamweight division before the creation of the UFC’s flyweight division and was extremely undersized for the weight class as a result. Giving up 10 pounds on the professional level at already such a small weight class really has a dramatic effect on a fighter’s performance. Jessica Eye went 1-5 with one no contest in the UFC’s bantamweight division and understandably, jumped at the opportunity to move back down to her proper weight class once it was introduced to the promotion. Since the move to flyweight, Jessica has won all three of her bouts, securing her position for a title fight, and has looked even more athletic inside of the Octagon.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-11 MMA,  22-8 UFC)

Donald Cerrone is a UFC staple. Cowboy holds the promotion’s record for the most wins as well as the most finishes all time and truly embodies an “anytime, anywhere” type fighter. He just loves to fight. Cowboy has accomplished almost every major accolade that a fighter could possibly have in the UFC, save for holding a championship title. Cowboy challenged Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight belt in late 2015 but was stopped in the very first round. This fight would prove to be a turning point in Cowboy’s career as he stated that the weight cutting was not only affecting his life weeks out before the fight but during the actual fight as well. Part of the reason for Cowboy’s success is that he loves to stay active, and when you are cutting a lot of weight it becomes very difficult to fight as often. Cowboy bulked up after his title loss and had a stint at welterweight that was fruitful at first but ultimately ended up with Cowboy looking over the hill and getting beat up by larger men. There was no path to the title in the welterweight division with Cowboy only walking around at about 175-pounds. Then, Cowboy returned to 155 pounds at the beginning of the year and stopped Alexander Hernandez and then soundly beat Al Iaquinta in a unanimous decision. Now Cowboy just has to get past Tony Ferguson to capture that ever-elusive UFC gold in the lightweight division.

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