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What Are the UFC Rules for Making Weight? Most Asked Questions

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Before any big fight in combat sports, including the UFC, both combatants have to weigh-in to an agreed-upon weight. This is to ensure the fight is fair and there is no massive size or weight advantage, even though most times, there still will be. In MMA, there are weight classes, so for example, in a fight between featherweights, both combatants will have to weigh no more than 146 pounds (145 if it’s a title bout).

But what happens if someone misses weight? Or what if the champion doesn’t make championship weight? How does the weigh-in process even work and why are there two weigh-ins in the UFC? All these questions will be answered in this guide so keep on reading to learn more!

How long before a UFC fight is the weigh-in?

With most UFC events, weigh-ins are usually over 24 hours before the fight. Fighters are given until a certain time window, usually two hours but it varies, to officially make weight for their scheduled fight.

If they fail to do so, they will be given more time until the scheduled time window expires. In some cases, the weigh-ins can be earlier or later if the fight is taking place in another country.

Why do UFC fighters weigh in twice?

You may have noticed on social media and YouTube that there are two separate weigh-ins for UFC events. The first weigh-ins, usually with no crowd and just UFC staff and press, take place in the morning, and are the official weigh-ins. All the official weights for the event are compiled at this particular weigh-in.

UFC official weigh-ins

The weigh-ins that take place later on in the night are the ceremonial weigh-ins. This is after the fighters have had time to rehydrate, as they will step on the scales, pose, and then do their final faceoffs with their opponents. Unlike the morning weigh-ins, the ceremonial weigh-ins are more of a public event with plenty of fans gathering. If it’s a pay-per-view event, UFC commentator Joe Rogan will usually interview the main card fighters after they’ve completed their post-weigh-in faceoffs.

UFC ceremonial weigh-ins

What happens when UFC fighters miss weight?

Missing weight is common in the UFC. It could be an injury preventing you from fully cutting weight, sickness, your body getting older and just not being able to cut the required weight enough, or you simply weren’t disciplined enough with the pre-fight diet.

If this is the case, your opponent will decide if they want to fight you at a catchweight (if the fighter who misses weight comes in three pounds over 155, for example, it will be a 158-pound catchweight bout). If this is the case, the fighter who misses weight will have to forfeit a percentage of their purse, usually 30 percent, to their opponent. Additionally, the fighter that misses weight will not be eligible for any performance of the night bonuses, including Fight of the Night.

What happens if a UFC champion misses weight?

If a UFC champion fails to make the required weight for the championship bout, they will be stripped of the title. The fight will officially become a vacant title fight, assuming the title challenger makes weight. Should the stripped UFC champion end up winning the fight, the title will remain vacant. But if the title challenger who made the weight wins the fight, they will become the new champion.

When former UFC lightweight champion Charles Olivera missed weight on two separate occasions at UFC 274, he was stripped of the title before the championship bout against Justin Gaethje.

What happens if both fighters miss weight?

In a rare case of both fighters missing weight, the fight would more than likely continue as a catchweight bout. Both fighters will also have to forfeit a percentage of their fight purse, but it’s unclear whether this will go to the commission or UFC president Dana White. Regardless, both fighters will remain ineligible for performance of the night bonuses.

How much can you be overweight at UFC weigh-ins?

In non-title bouts, fighters are only allowed to be one pound heavier than their divisional weight limit. For example, a light heavyweight fighter (205 pounds) can weigh in at 206 pounds and the fight will still be official. Even coming in at 206.25 pounds will mean the fighter has missed weight. In the case of a title fight, however, both individuals need to make the championship weight, which means they absolutely have to make 205 pounds.

Do UFC fighters fight at their weigh-in weight?

Fighters do not fight at their weigh-in weight. This is because they are usually cutting weight to make the divisional limit during fight week. This involves dehydrating themselves and losing as much water weight as possible to ensure they make the contracted weight. Once the weight is made, they rehydrate and return to their usual camp weight, which in most cases, is 10-20 pounds above their weigh-in weight.

Why do UFC fighters not fight at their natural weight?

So why do UFC fighters not fight at their natural weight instead of cutting weight? While a select few fighters definitely do fight at their natural weight, which means they only have to cut a few pounds, the vast majority of UFC fighters end up not fighting at their natural weight and having to cut lots of weight.

The main reason for this? to have a size, power, and weight advantage (once they rehydrate after the weigh-ins) over their opponent. Of course, most fighters have dieticians who help them lose weight in a healthy manner. But the reality is that it’s not safe in the long term, and complications and health issues can always occur.

Why is weight cutting allowed?

Weight-cutting is allowed simply because that’s how things have worked for the last few decades. Additionally, the vast majority of fighters are still able to make the weight. If an oversized fighter is able to consistently make the weight, it’s hard to really call for an end to weight cutting, even if the fighter still maintains an advantage. Certain states, like California, require that a fighter can’t weigh more than 15% above the contracted fight weight on the day of the event. However, this can be easily avoided by fighters who cut more than the limit by simply competing in other states.

While in the UFC, there haven’t been any deaths as a result of weight-cutting, there are a few weight-cutting complications at the occasional event. It causes temporary calls to end weight-cutting by some critics but is quickly dismissed and forgotten when the next event sees no such issues.

Why does the UFC not have a super heavyweight division?

The heaviest division the UFC has is the heavyweight division which has a limit of 266 pounds for non-title bouts. Anything heavier would constitute the need for a super heavyweight division which a few have called for over the years.

In reality, this is unlikely. For one, it would most likely be a side show with out-of-shape fighters or personalities competing. Then there’s the fact that there isn’t a large enough talent pool to accommodate such a division. Here’s what UFC president Dana White said about super heavyweights back in 2010:

“You’re not going to go out and find too many super heavyweights out there. There just aren’t enough big guys like that.”

Don’t expect a super heavyweight division anytime soon in the UFC.

Why Is There A Weight Limit For UFC Heavyweight Fighters? FAQ

How do UFC fighters cut weight so fast?

UFC fighters are able to cut weight rapidly by dehydrating themselves and losing water weight during fight week. They mainly do this by working out and breaking a sweat constantly as they prepare for the fight. They are also fasting in the process by cutting out carbohydrates, limiting their sodium intake, and limiting their overall daily calorie intake.

When it’s weigh-in day, that’s when they look to sweat as much as possible to make the weight, using the help of saunas and sweat suits to further expedite the process.

Behind the scenes of cutting weight

Why does the UFC use an analog scale instead of a digital scale?

You may have noticed that the UFC uses analog scales instead of digital scales when weighing fighters. This is mainly due to the particular state athletic commissions that regulate UFC events and decide on using analog scales. Why is this the case? the proponents of analog scales claim analog is more accurate and consistent when calibrated, whereas with digital scales, there can be a discrepancy of a pound, which can cause many problems, especially with title fights where the extra pound for championship weight is crucial.

When UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner was asked about the legitimacy of the analog scale, Ratner quickly rejected suggestions that the UFC or athletic commissions switch to digital scales and said the following:

“Digital scales sometimes you’ll get tenths of ounces, a pound is 16 ounces so you’d hate to have a regular fight and the weight is supposed to be [155 pounds] and you get up to 156 and on the digital scale you could weigh 156.2,” Ratner explained. “Well that doesn’t make sense either.

“We’ve always used the meat scale, it’s accurate, it’s balanced, it’s calibrated, so I have no problem using it. We’ve been successful using it for the past 15 years that I’ve been doing it.”

It appears the analog scale is not going away anytime soon for UFC weigh-ins.

Final Thoughts

Weight cutting is a widely-debated topic in the mixed martial arts world with many believing it should be abolished, while others believe things are fine the way they are and that any complications or health issues are on the fighter for not knowing their body’s limits or trying to gain a huge advantage. For now, however, weight cutting looks like it will be here to stay for the considerable future.