The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC Fight Island 8

Michael Chiesa UFC 239
Michael Chiesa Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/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.

Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs): 7-4 (UFC), TUF 15 Winner

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

One half of the main event slot for UFC Fight Island 8 is a former lightweight-turned welterweight, Michael Chiesa. Chiesa is on a three-fight win streak since moving up to the welterweight division in 2018.

This move up to welterweight came after 11 lightweight fights in the UFC for Chiesa. 15, if you include Chiesa’s winning stint on The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 in 2012 where he also competed at 155lbs (however, Chiesa’s final fight before appearing on TUF was in the welterweight division).

Chiesa’s record while at lightweight in the UFC was 7-4, including wins over solid opponents like Al Iaquinta, Franciso Trinaldo, and Jim Miller.

Unfortunately, after Chiesa’s 2016 bonus winning performance over Beneil Dariush, his UFC career at 155lbs would take a sharp turn for the worse.

First, a back injury prevented Chiesa from facing the high ranking boogie man, Tony Ferguson in July of 2016. In May of 2017, there was the entire UFC 211 press conference, featuring Chiesa and his upcoming opponent Kevin Lee (that didn’t go well). And just two months later in Chiesa’s fight with Lee, he was submitted in the first round after he neither tapped nor went unconscious thanks to an error by the referee. After that Chiesa was cut by a piece of glass in the Conor McGregor bus attack incident in April of 2018 and had his bout with Anthony Pettis canceled. The final straw came when Chiesa missed weight coming in at 157.5lbs ahead of his bout with Pettis, in which he was submitted by triangle armbar at UFC 226.

Lightweight is a stacked division, as is welterweight, but at least Chiesa won’t be cutting an excessive amount of weight. Excessive weight cuts can cut into cardio energy reserves and that is especially detrimental to a fighter with such a wrestling heavy arsenal as Chiesa.

Thus far, Chiesa has not only looked good on the scales at welterweight, weighing in at 170.5lbs three times in a row, but also has looked amazing in the cage. Chiesa submitted Carlos Condit in the second round before beating Deigo Sanchez by unanimous decision in his second bout at 170lbs.

Chiesa’s last fight was nearly a year ago when he showed off his cardio and wrestling by defeating Rafael Dos Anjos in an extremely grueling three round unanimous decision victory. Chiesa performed great, and his gas tank looked amazing even under the strain of all of those high energy output wrestling scrambles. That might not have been the case at 155lbs.

Now Chiesa will face one of the most grinding fighters in all of the UFC, Neil Magny, whose clinch heavy and grappling style will be on full display when he takes on the former lightweight in the main event for UFC Fight Island 8.