The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC 239

Diego Sanchez and Michael Chiesa UFC
Diego Sanchez and Michael Chiesa Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

This edition of the Weight Cutting Chronicles focuses on the UFC’s crown jewel of Summer, UFC 239 — with a bunch of fighters who have made the move up in weight in recent times.

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 (21-6 MMA, 13-5 UFC)

Middleweight (185lbs.): 10-5 (UFC) Defeated Anthony Smith, Elias Theodorou, and Jack Marshman.

Light Heavyweight (205lbs.): 3-0 (UFC) Defeated Eryk Anders and Jimi Manuwa.

Thiago Santos is an absolute beast of a man and a top notch specimen. The Portuguese nickname of “Marreta” or sledgehammer is fitting for a man that posses so much power that even when he moved up 20lbs in weight, he was still knocking top UFC contenders out cold. Thiago had more than a few good wins in the middleweight division but was ultimately drowned out by superior talent and unable to make a title run. Now that hes moved up in weight Santos looks bigger, stronger and has quickly made his way to a title shot in the UFC’s slightly less crowded light heavyweight division.

Amanda  “The Lioness” Nunes (17-4 MMA, 10-1 UFC)

Bantamweight(135lbs.): 9-1 (UFC), UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion (3 successful defenses), Defeated Valentina Shevchenko x2, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate.

Featherweight (145lbs.): 1-0 (UFC) UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion (0 successful defenses), Defeated Cris Cyborg.

Amanda Nunes shocked the MMA world with her first round KO of 145lb champion Cris Cyborg last December. Nunes had been a huge underdog, as she had been many times in her career before. Cyborg is so big, and cuts an insane amount of weight as well as being just so dominate for many, many years. But, Amanda has bricks for hands and every time she connects with a punch on an opponent whether at 135lbs or 145lbs, her opponent knows they’re in for a long night. Amanda’s power and fluidity with her hands is truly something to behold and something extremely dangerous, especially in the 135lbs weight class that she will be defending her belt in at UFC 239.

Holly “The Preachers Daughter” Holm (12-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC)

Bantamweight (135lbs.): 4-2 (UFC). Former UFC Bantamweight Champion (0 successful defenses), Defeated Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia.

Featherweight (145lbs.): 1-2 (UFC). Defeated Megan Anderson

Holy Holm has had a rough time as of late. At 5’8″ and possessing a 69″ reach Holly has fared extremely well in the bantamweight division. Holm’s elite movement/distance control and kicks have afforded her some highlight reel finishes against some of the sports biggest names. However, when Holm moved up to featherweight, which had a shorter path to recapture a UFC title, she lost a super controversial fight to Germaine de Randamie. In Holm’s most recent fight she outclassed Megan Anderson at featherweight to get her first win in the division. Now, Holm moves back down to her more natural weight class to attempt to reclaim the UFC women’s bantamweight title.

Luke Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC)

Middleweight (185lbs.): 6-3(UFC), Former UFC Middleweight Champion (0 successful defenses) , Defeated Chris Weidman, Micheal Bisping and Lyoto Machida.

Light heavyweight (205lbs.): 0-0(UFC)

Luke Rockhold, however unpopular he may be, is a former UFC middleweight champion. The older the body is the more it tends to hold onto weight, even for a professional fighter. Mother nature is undefeated and it became harder and harder for Luke to cut the weight down to 185lbs, and fight the next day.

Luke Rockhold told Cageside Press in an interview with Gabriel Gonzalez:

“You gotta know when to leave. You gotta know when to let it go. My body didn’t want to do it anymore. I’d known that for the last couple years, and I wanted that. That was the mindset, and my body failed me the last time out. It was just too extreme a weight cut.”

Luke had a great run in the middleweight division, and with his 6’3″ frame and 77″ reach he should be right at home in the light heavyweight division. Despite the injuries, the long lay off and the fact that his last time out was more than a year ago and a KO loss to Yoel Romero, be on the lookout for a rejuvenated, full strength, Luke Rockhold.

Micheal “Maverick” Chiesa (14-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs.): 7-4 (UFC), The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 Winner, Defeated Beneil Dariush, Al Iaquinta.

Welterweight (170lbs.): 1-0 (UFC) Defeated Carlos Condit.

Micheal Chiesa was an absolutely massive lightweight. Maverick’s 6’1″ height and 75.5″ reach made cutting down to 155lbs for so long a truly impressive feat. After an extremely heated buildup, Chiesa loss by first round submission to Kevin Lee. For his next fight Micheal missed weight in July of 2018 prior to his second round triangle arm bar submission loss to Anthony Pettis. Cheisa came into the fight overweight at 157.5lbs. Just like that Maverick plummeted in the rankings and eliminated himself from any title conversation any time soon. Chiesa decided it was time to eliminate the hurtful excessive weight cut and in December of 2018 defeated Carlos Condit by unanimous decision.

Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (29-11 MMA, 18-11 UFC)

Featherweight(145lbs.): 0-1 (UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs.): 5-5 (UFC), missed weight 1 time.

Welterweight (170lbs.): 12-5 (UFC).

Middleweight(185lbs.): 1-0 (UFC) The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Winner, Defeated Kenny Florian.

Diego Sanchez is a staple fighter of the UFC and he has reinvented himself time and time again and is still a very dangerous opponent for anyone. Diego may not be the oldest fighter, or have the most fights. but for his fighting style he has been around for a very long time. A real wild man that will throw down and brawl with absolutely anyone. As Diego’s record reflects over his long career, he seems to capture more wins the less weight that he cuts.