From GSP to Khabib: Controversies on the Scale

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Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 254
Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 254 Weigh-In Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Well-known trainer and weight-cutting guru Mike Dolce raised some heads following the UFC 254 weigh-in last week when he suggested the scale had been improperly utilized during Khabib Nurmagomedov’s weigh-in. Meaning that, in all likelihood, the champ had missed weight.

It’s far from the first time there’s been a controversy at the scales in the UFC. Weigh-ins are never an exact science, as nice as that might be. It’s not even the first time a UFC champion maybe, actually, didn’t technically make weight. It’s just the latest in a list of incidents that serves as a reminder that in sports, as in life, nothing is perfect.

For more on this and other mishaps, read on.

UFC 254 – Khabib Nurmagomedov

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – UFC acting Athletic Commission

Early in the morning of October 23, Khabib Nurmagomedov stepped on the scale ahead of his 29th bout, on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Khabib looked noticeably drained, as he does at most weigh-ins, and first signaled he would be needing the towel as he would be removing his underwear before using the arms of the officials holding the towel to hoist himself onto the scale.

The official manning the scale almost immediately began to nod his head ‘yes’ after he unlocked the scale and let it balance for just a fraction of a second before sliding the counterweight all the way back and calling out “155.”

It was an action that brought about a gigantic controversy and cause for discussion for fans and fellow fighters alike on social media. Why clear the weight so quickly?

One of the louder voices was Mike Dolce who made a video immediately following Khabib Nurmagomedov weighing in at UFC 254, insisting that Khabib’s weight had not been taken correctly by the official manning the scale.  In Dolce’s opinion, Khabib did not make the weight when he first weighed in through absolutely no fault of his own.

Dolce is a former professional MMA fighter himself but more importantly specializes in weight cutting and has helped many high-caliber UFC fighters over the years make their cuts safely, leaving them with the energy to perform the next day too.

Dolce places the blame squarely on the official balancing out the scale, stating that he was in a hurry to wipe the scale. The scale was still on the way up and had yet to stabilize before being wiped, noted Dolce. If the weight hasn’t stabilized completely in the center then that means that either Khabib didn’t keep still (which wasn’t the case) or that he was heavier than 155lbs.  Dolce offers up a side-by-side with Gaethje’s weigh-in, where the official waits much longer, letting the scale settle towards the middle before wiping it.

Dolce concluded by basically saying that though he was a Khabib fan, he doesn’t think that Khabib made the championship weight of 155lbs on his first attempt and that it was weird that the official so hastily cleared the weight, as opposed to how he let it level out for Gatheje’s weigh-in. It’s worth noting that Khabib would likely have been allowed additional time to make championship weight, so while it’s a controversial moment, it’s not to say he should have been stripped of the title.

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