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.
Check out a video version of this week’s WCC in the YouTube video above for your viewing pleasure!
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagovmedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC)
Lightweight (155lbs): 12-0 (UFC), UFC Lightweight Champion
Catchweight (160lbs): 1-0 (UFC)
Welterweight (170lbs): 11-0 (MMA)
Khabib Nurmagovmedov (28-0) has always been a large fighter at lightweight because he spent part of his early professional MMA career at 170lbs. Khabib’s huge muscular stature benefits his style as he likes to take his opponents down, hold them there, and impose his will upon them. Khabib’s last welterweight fight was October of 2011. Khabib finished 10 of the 11 opponents that he faced while fighting in the welterweight weight class. A lot of his opponents were early on in their careers, but Khabib has only faced one opponent that had a losing record.
Khabib missed weight for his fourth bout in the UFC, against Abel Trujillo in May of 2013 at UFC 160. In their fight, Khabib set the UFC record for the most takedowns in a fight with 21.
And after a string of injuries resulting in canceled fights, plus a couple more wins, Khabib landed in a catchweight bout at 160lbs in April of 2014 against Darrel Horcher. Khabib won by ground n’ pound in the second round.
Khabib’s weight cutting issues continued when he was hospitalized ahead of his UFC 209 bout with Tony Ferguson, in March of 2017, as a result of weight cutting complications. Though Khabib’s weight cut had gone smoothly for his fight a few months prior against Michael Johnson, this was the 3rd time that the famous ill-fated bout against Ferguson had been canceled. Khabib was 27 years old at the time of the scheduled bout. Nurmagomedov appeared on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour about a month later while he was still recovering, to discuss the botched weight cut and just how bad a shape he was in (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“One day before weigh-in, of course I don’t feel good all the time, but I think this is like something different. And when I go home the night before weigh-ins, I feel crazy. I’m cutting weight with my team, and I don’t remember how I cut weight. I don’t remember a lot of things, something going wrong.
“I feel so bad. I never feel like this.”
Khabib had to be brought to the hospital and his doctors pulled him from the card. Khabib might have just been in extreme pain a month prior, and still unable to return to training but he insisted in his interview with Ariel Helwani the lightweight was the weight class where he belongs in the UFC and not welterweight expect for possible super fights.
“I never fight 170, because I can make . I make 155 all of my career,” Nurmagomedov said. “I make all my amateur career at 155. All the time, I can make and I will make 155. Of course, before, I think about ‘maybe I fight at 170, superfight,’ something like this. But I want to say that I never fight 170. Never. I know this. This is not changing. I am going to fight only 155, and now I have difference motivations. I want [figure out] how I can make 155 and how I can become UFC lightweight champion. This is my different and new motivation.”
Since that third cancellation with Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagovmedov has had no more weight cutting mishaps and has continued to dominate his opposition. Khabib has seemingly had no problem on the scales post-2017 and has been able to make a championship weight of 155lbs as well. Khabib will look to extend his mythical 28-0 record against Justin Gaethje as he defends his lightweight belt again at UFC 254.