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 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 cutting more than 30 pounds. Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower.
Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight and often there is always a risk of a fighter losing a percentage of their fight purse.
In this series, we will shine a light on select 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 matchups.
In short, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game.
Jon “Bones” Jones (26-1, 1 NC MMA, 20-1, 1 NC UFC)
Light Heavyweight (205lbs.): 20-1 (UFC), Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
Heavyweight (265lbs.): 0-0 (MMA) UFC and Career Debut
Jon Jones will return to UFC competition at UFC 285, after a three-year hiatus.
Often described as the most naturally gifted fighter ever, Jones stands at 6’4″ tall and has a massive 84.5″ reach. Jon also is gifted with top level athleticism as both of his brothers (Chandler and Arthur Jones) are Super Bowl winning NFL players.
The man also known as ‘Bones’ will have come a long way when he walks into the cage at UFC 285. Jon got his nickname of “Bones” for a reason, as even when making championship weight of 205lbs., as he did for most of his career, it’d be tough to recall a time that Jon Jones actually looked bad or unhealthy on the scale from his weight cut.
Surprisingly, Jones was never a fighter that struggled come weigh-in time at light heavyweight even though he had a huge frame for the division thanks to his slight build especially in his legs.
Though fights with middleweights moving up to 205lbs. were entertained throughout his career (like Israel Adesanya) the 20lbs. gap would have undoubtedly been too much for Jones to handle coming down to 185lbs.
The 14x UFC title fight winner took years off from MMA competition in order to bulk up muscle, at one point getting his body weight up to 267lbs. Jones, who when fighting at 205lbs. weighed in at about 220lbs. outside of camp, will likely weigh close to 245lbs. for his heavyweight fight against Cyril Gane.
Despite many fans observations on Jones not looking aesthetically impressive during UFC 285 fight week, he has certainly gained strength as he has been captured back squatting north of 450lbs. Jones, who is turning 36-years old later on this year, appears to have put on approximately 25lbs. of functional weight that looks natural considering his age, body type and purpose for the weight.
The two main questions in my mind for Jon’s move up to the heavyweight division are:
How will the extra weight affect Jon’s skillset?
How will the new opponents of the UFC’s heavyweight division stack up against Jones?
In short, at light heavyweight Jon’s reach was unheard of, and only Alexander Gustafsson came close (79″reach), but at heavyweight this will not be the case as he takes on some naturally larger men.
Jones has excellent wrestling, elbows and a variety of kicks with one of his greatest weapons being his creativity with chaining his techniques and strikes together. Jon’s wrestling and kicks will be important assets at heavyweight to control the pacing and distance of dangerous exchanges. And being a “lighter” heavyweight has proved advantageous in the past for fighters like Stipe Miocic for speed and cardio.
Jon Jones has a lot of new hungry competition that stack up against him very well both physically and stylistically.
Sergei Pavlovich at 6’3″ with 84″ reach and weighing in at 255lbs. is one of Jon’s immediate threats. Pavlovich is just 30-years old and has a deep Greco-roman wrestling and combat sambo background. (Sergei is also the official backup for UFC 285’s main event)
Stipe Miocic at 6’4″ with an 80″ reach and weighing in at 234lbs. is another one of Jon’s immediate threats. Stipe might be 40-years old but his division 1 collegiate wrestling background and slick boxing make him still a threat.
Curtis Blaydes at 6’4″ with a 80″ reach and weighing in at 260lbs. is another immediate threat to Jones. Curtis is a decorated NJCAA wrestler that has flawlessly implemented his wrestling into MMA and is also becoming a threat on the feet as well.
Tom Aspinall at 6’5″ with a 78″ reach and weighting in at 251lbs. is a fighter that could be a threat in a few years. Tom suffered a brutal knee injury last year in his fight against Curtis Blaydes but at just 29-years old could be a real tough fight for Jones if/when he makes his comeback.
There are also fighters like Sergey Spivak and Alexander Volkov that could potentially make for good fights on the horizon.
The fight world will be watching as Jones steps on the scale ahead of his UFC Heavyweight title fight against Cyril Gane the following day on March 4 in Las Vegas.