The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC 247

Ilir Latifi UFC
Ilir Latifi Credit: Jeff Sherwood/

The UFC is in Houston this week, with Jon Jones topping the second PPV of 2020.

Fans have long dreamed of seeing Jon Jones at heavyweight, but it’s another light heavyweight who has decided to head north at UFC 247.

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.

Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (18-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC)

Flyweight (125lbs): 4-0, UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion

Bantamweight (135lbs): 3-2 (UFC), Challenger for UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title

Like many women in the promotion today, Valentina Shevchenko benefited heavily from the UFC’s addition of a women’s flyweight weight class. Before that, she was forced to be extremely undersized in the bantamweight weight class. Valentina only stands at 5’5 and posses a 65.5″ reach.  ‘Bullet’ is a calculated counter striker with extremely technical Muay Thai that does not take unnecessary risks.

During Valentina’s five-fight stint in the UFC’s bantamweight division she never even hit the 135lbs mark, she was always under it — sometimes by more than a pound. Both of Valentina’s lone losses in the UFC were against the double champ, Amanda Nunes. Who for comparison is 5’7 and posses a 69″ reach. Amanda is way bigger than Valentina but both of their fights were competitive, with the most recent ending in a split decision in 2017. Considering that Nunes is a champion in the 145lb division and has hands that hit like trucks, even going the distance with her twice is a pretty impressive feat. So ever since the Women’s Flyweight division was created Shevchenko has looked right at home, comfortable with her weight, and absolutely destroying all comers.

She returns at UFC 247 to defend her title against Katlyn Chookagian.

Illir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi (14-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC)

Light heavyweight (205lbs): 7-5 (UFC)

Heavyweight (265lbs): 0-0 (UFC)

llir Latifi is a stout 5’8″ wrestler just a 75″ reach. The Swede came from a family of wrestlers and has wrestled since he was young, making him very familiar with cutting weight.  Latifi is 36 years old and lost his last two fights in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.  Latifi has been in the UFC and fighting in the 205lb division since joining the promotion in 2013.

Now that Latifi is moving up to heavyweight at UFC 247, he will be extremely undersized against the vast majority of the heavyweight division with his much smaller frame. This could potentially pose issues as a fighter naturally much larger than Latifi will be harder to take down and impose his will upon.

Illir always looks to end the night early and out of his 7 UFC wins, 5 of them have been finishes. Latifi has scored finishes against some of the bigger names in the UFCs light-heavyweight division such as Sean O’Connell and Ovince St. Preux. Latifi has power in his hands while on his feet and especially while in a ground and pound situation.