Joanna Jedrzejczyk was all the talk ahead of UFC Tampa, as MMA fans waited anxiously to see if she could successfully make the strawweight limit.
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.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC)
Strawweight (115lbs.): 9-2 (UFC), Former UFC Strawweight Champion
Flyweight (125lbs.): 0-1 (UFC), UFC Women’s Flyweight Challenger
Joanna Jedrzejczyk or as she prefers, Joanna Champion, was the long-time holder of the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship belt. Joanna successfully defended her title a very impressive 5 times. Jedrzejczyk had a perfect 14-0 record heading into her first fight with Rose Namajunas but would lose in stunning fashion in the very first round when she was dropped and finished. In the rematch between Rose and Joanna, Jedrzejczyk would again come up short. JJ has always been very long for the division and now at 32 years old her 5’6″, 65.5″ frame is starting to catch up with her as it is becoming increasingly more difficult for her to make the weight. Not to mention that due to the anatomical differences between men and women, it is much harder for the female fighters to hold an extremely low percentage of body fat let alone cut weight than it for their male counterparts. Joanna is one to watch on the scale and for how her performance looks on Saturday night because a bad showing in either area and the next time we see JJ will almost certainly be in the flyweight division.
James “The Texexecutioner” Vick (13-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC)
Lightweight (155lbs.): 9-4 (UFC)
Welterweight (170lbs.): 0-0 (UFC)
Jame Vick was the freakshow of the lightweight division. James’s insane physical attributes for the weight class made him quite a force to be reckoned with until the excessive weight cutting caught up to him. At 6’3 and possessing a 76″ inch reach coming of the Ultimate Fighter, James seemed like he was destined for the top. But what has been speculated for a while now is that, due to the massive amount of weight that Vick had to cut to get down to 155lbs. heavily affected his ability to take a shot. Out of Vick’s last 3 fights (all losses), 2 of them have been early first-round knockouts. Vick and his team have finally wised up to the trauma that his body was undergoing before the fight even began and this saturday he will be making his UFC debut at 170lbs. where he could immeaditily be on the radar with a big win.
Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena (7-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Featherweight (145lbs.): 1-0 (UFC), Missed weight at this weight class
Lightweight (155lbs.): 2-1 (UFC)
Luis Pena is an Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated, season participant, and did extremely well despite having an injury during the show. Pena is 6’3″ and a massive 78″ reach. (Yes, longer than James Vick) And he even attempted to go down and fight at 145lbs.but badly missed weight for that fight even though he won the bout. At 26-year-old Luis is a young hungry fighter who’s body is still able to withstand the rigours of weight cutting. But, moving forward in the coming years dont be surprised to see Violent Bob Ross move uo in weight class or even struggle to make weight. Pena will always be a fighter to watch on the scale with his physical attributes.
Eryk “Ya Boy” Anders (12-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC)
Middleweight (185lbs.): 3-2 (UFC)
Lightheavyweight (205lbs.): 1-2 (UFC)
As of late, there has been a rash of middleweight UFC fighters making the leap up between middleweight and light-heavyweight. And a lot of these guys are finding success. Guys like Thiago Santos, Anthony Smith, and former UFC middleweight champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Wiedman. But, one of the first guys to find success in this huge weight jump was Eryk Anders. Eryk stepped up on short notice to fill in at light heavyweight and just kind of continued to take fights there. Ya Boy loves to stay active and taking fights in two different weight classes is one way to do that. Eryk’s last fight was at 205lbs. back in June and now he is attempting to come back down to 185lbs. Anders is definitely a fighter to watch and see how he recuperates from the weight cut as he relies heavily on his athletic ability when he fights which consumes a lot of energy.