The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC Brasilia — Lee, Burns and Moicano

Kevin Lee UFC
Kevin Lee Credit: Marcus Rebelo/Cageside Press

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.

With the worldwide pandemic in the forefront of everyone’s minds, these fighters must cut an excessive amount of weight, severely weakening their immune systems mere hours before getting into a fistfight with another professional athlete. 

Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (18-5 MMA, 11-4 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs.): 11-3 (UFC) Missed weight 1 time

Welterweight (170lbs.): 0-1 (UFC)

Kevin Lee is a 27-year-old that is positioned just outside of the title shot conversation in the 155lb division. Lee, standing at 5’9″ tall and possessing a 75.5″ reach, isn’t necessarily long, but a very muscular build means he has to cut a lot of weight. Kevin fought Tony Ferguson for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship, back in 2017, where he was finished in the 3rd round. Lee went 1-1 after this fight before trying his hand at welterweight and eliminating his excessive weight cut. Kevin lost a very competitive fight to  Rafael dos Anjos by submission in the fourth round. This was Kevin’s first and only UFC welterweight bout.

Kevin moved back down to lightweight after this loss and captured a huge win in the form of a spectacular first-round head kick knockout over then-undefeated, Gregor Gillespie. Kevin is right in the “tweener” area between 155lbs and 170lbs, if he is unable to conjure up another win streak at lightweight, in order to make another run at the title, then definitely expect to see him in the welterweight division in the future.

Gilbert “Durinho” Burns (17-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs.):  7-3 (UFC)

Welterweight (170lbs.): 3-0 (UFC)

Gilbert Burns stands at 5’10” and possesses a 71″ reach with a pretty heavy, muscular build. Gilbert is a grappler and has been ever since he was very young so he is all too familiar with weight cuts. It was extremely difficult for Burns to make the cut down to 155lbs and at the age of 33 years old, no one was too surprised when Burns was forced to move up to the welterweight division.

Burns was deemed too heavy to attempt the weight cut for his bout against Oliver Aubin Mercier in 2018, and their bout had to be canceled as a result. This would spell the beginning of the end of Burns’ time in the UFC’s lightweight division. Gilbert’s two most recent bouts were in 2019 and were against Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson both of which he won by unanimous decision and both of which at the 170lbs weight class. Gilbert looks to extend his perfect record at welterweight at UFC Brasilia.

Renato Moicano (13-3-1 MMA, 6-3 UFC)

Featherweight (145lbs.): 6-3 (UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs.): 0-0 (UFC)

Renato Moicano has had a rough go in the UFC as of late, especially in 2019. Renato not only suffered back to back losses but in both, he was finished, and also in both, he was the favorite to win. It is however also worth noting that the three men Renato has lost to at featherweight are: Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung, all extremely high-level fighters.

Renato stands at 5’11” with a 72″ reach and a pretty slight frame, and it was pretty obvious that the weight cut was a little bit of a struggle for him. Renato turns 31 in about a month and at this stage in his life and career its to be expected that he is unable to shed pounds the way that he used to be able to and be fully recovered the next day. Renato definitely has a couple to prove at UFC Brasilia: that his chin is still strong and the to fight losing streak was just a negative effect of the weight cut and that he is large enough to compete with these lightweight fighters in one of the best weight divisions in the UFC.