What Happens When a Fighter Misses Weight? MMA & UFC

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Weight is a crucial factor in MMA and UFC events, and fighters are required to meet specific weight requirements before entering a fight. Not making weight can lead to serious consequences that could affect a fighter’s career and reputation. So, what happens when a fighter misses weight?

Firstly, fighters who miss weight can face monetary fines, which can be significant. The fines depend on the severity of the weight miss and can be as high as 30% of the fighter’s purse. For example, if a fighter misses weight by five pounds in a fight worth $100,000, they could forfeit $15,000 of their purse.

Why is Making Weight Important in MMA & UFC?

MMA and UFC fights are often classified by the weight classes of the fighters involved. The reason for this is simple: weight has a significant impact on a fighter’s performance and safety in the ring. Therefore, making weight is a crucial aspect of preparing for a fight.

Fighters who exceed the weight limit for their class face a host of penalties, including fines and potential disqualification. This is because carrying excess weight can give a fighter an unfair advantage and puts both fighters at risk.

Weight Requirements for Fighters

In MMA and UFC, fighters are divided into weight classes. The weight classes are designed to ensure that fighters are evenly matched in terms of size and weight. The UFC, for example, has eight weight divisions ranging from strawweight (up to 115 pounds) to heavyweight (over 265 pounds).

Before a fight, each fighter is required to weigh in at or under the weight limit for their weight class. If a fighter fails to make weight, they may be penalized, and the fight may be canceled.

Weight Cutting in MMA

Weight cutting is the practice of shedding excess weight before a fight to make weight. This can involve drastic measures such as dehydration, fasting, and intense exercise. While weight cutting is allowed in MMA and UFC, it can be dangerous, and there are strict rules regarding the practice.

Dehydration, in particular, can be extremely dangerous for fighters, as it can lead to heat exhaustion, cramping, and even death. As a result, athletic commissions closely monitor fighters during the weight cutting process to ensure that they are doing so safely and not putting their health at risk.

Hydration in MMA

Hydration is an essential aspect of weight cutting in MMA and UFC. Fighters may use various methods to dehydrate themselves to make weight, such as sauna sessions or hot baths. However, it’s crucial to rehydrate properly after making weight to avoid dehydration during the fight.

Proper hydration is also essential for a fighter’s performance in the ring. Dehydration can cause a fighter to feel weak and sluggish, negatively impacting their performance.

What Happens When a Fighter Fails to Make Weight?

In MMA and UFC events, fighters are required to make weight for their designated weight class. If a fighter fails to make weight, they will face penalties and consequences. These penalties are set in place to ensure fairness and safety in the sport.

Penalties for Missing Weight Consequences for Fighters
Fines Fighters who miss weight may be subjected to monetary fines imposed by the athletic commission.
Loss of Purse Percentage When a fighter misses weight, they may automatically lose a percentage of their purse to their opponent.
Disqualification from the Fight In some cases, fighters who fail to make weight will be disqualified from the fight entirely.

The severity of the penalties can vary depending on the organization and the specific event. However, regardless of the exact penalty, missing weight can have severe consequences for a fighter’s career.

Impacts of Not Making Weight on Fighters’ Careers

Not making weight can have serious consequences on a fighter’s career, both immediately and in the long term. The fighter may face penalties such as fines, loss of purse percentage, and disqualification from the fight, which can damage their reputation and make it difficult for them to secure future fights.

Moreover, repeatedly missing weight can lead to a fighter being forced to move up or down a weight class, which could affect their competitiveness in the new class. Moving up a weight class may result in fighting opponents who are stronger and larger, while moving down could lead to diminished strength and energy levels. This could significantly impact a fighter’s performance and ability to win fights.

Additionally, beyond the direct impact on their career, repeatedly missing weight can also negatively affect a fighter’s relationship with their team and fans. Coaches may lose trust in a fighter’s commitment and discipline, while fans may question their professionalism and dedication to the sport.

The Medical Consequences of Missing Weight in MMA & UFC

While missing weight can lead to immediate consequences, such as fines and disqualification from a bout, there are also long-term impacts on a fighter’s health. The process of cutting weight can be dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening.

The most significant medical risk associated with missing weight is dehydration. Fighters may attempt to dehydrate their bodies to lose weight quickly, but this can cause severe health problems. Dehydration can lead to cramps, dizziness, fatigue, and heat exhaustion.

In addition to dehydration, fighters who miss weight can suffer from electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that are essential for proper functioning. When the body loses too much water, electrolyte imbalances can occur, leading to muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and even seizures.

There is also the risk of organ damage when a fighter cuts too much weight in a short period. Rapid weight loss can place a significant strain on the body’s organs, including the liver and kidneys, increasing the risk of permanent damage.

It’s essential for fighters to prioritize their health and well-being when cutting weight for a fight. They should work with trained professionals to develop a plan that ensures they make weight while avoiding dangerous health risks. Fighters should also properly rehydrate after a weigh-in to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

The Role of Athletic Commissions in Ensuring Fighters Make Weight

One of the primary responsibilities of athletic commissions is to enforce weight requirements for fighters, ensuring that they make weight before a fight. This is done to maintain fairness and safety in professional fighting. Athletes who do not meet the specified weight limits are not allowed to compete until they reach the required weight. Let’s take a closer look at the processes used by athletic commissions to enforce weight requirements.


Before each fight, fighters are required to attend weigh-ins, where they are weighed to determine if they qualify to fight in their designated weight class. This process is undertaken by representatives from the athletic commission, who ensure accurate weight measurements are taken and that the scales used to weigh the fighters are calibrated properly.

In most cases, fighters are required to weigh-in at a specific time, usually the day before the fight. This gives them time to rehydrate and recover from the weight-cutting process.

Rules and Regulations

Athletic commissions have strict rules and regulations in place to ensure fighters make weight and to penalize those who do not. These rules vary by commission, but they often include fines, suspensions, and disqualifications for fighters who miss weight.

Some athletic commissions also require fighters to undergo medical testing to ensure they are fit to fight, including hydration testing to determine if they are dehydrated. This is done to prevent fighters from engaging in dangerous weight-cutting practices, such as excessive dehydration, which can lead to serious injury or death.


Athletic commissions are responsible for enforcing weight requirements for fighters, both during the weigh-in process and on the day of the fight. To ensure compliance, many athletic commissions have inspectors who monitor fighters throughout the weigh-in process and on the day of the fight to ensure they stay within the weight limit.

If a fighter misses weight, the athletic commission will decide on an appropriate penalty, which may include a fine, suspension, or disqualification. The decision is often made based on the severity of the infraction and the fighter’s past behavior.

Overall, the role played by athletic commissions in ensuring fighters make weight is critical in maintaining fairness and safety in professional fighting. By enforcing weight requirements, athletic commissions are helping to prevent dangerous weight-cutting practices and promoting safe and healthy competition in MMA and UFC events.

How Fighters Can Avoid Missing Weight

While making weight in MMA and UFC events is a challenging task, fighters can take several steps to ensure they don’t miss weight. Here are some tips to help fighters make weight safely and effectively:

  1. Become familiar with weight requirements: Before each fight, fighters should familiarize themselves with the weight requirements for their weight class. This can help them plan their weight cut and avoid excessive weight loss.
  2. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is critical during the weight cutting process. Fighters should use sports drinks or electrolyte supplements to maintain their hydration levels and avoid dehydration.
  3. Start early: Fighters should begin their weight cut well in advance of the weigh-in. This gives them enough time to lose weight gradually and avoid drastic weight loss measures that can be dangerous.
  4. Consult with professionals: It’s essential for fighters to work with experienced nutritionists and strength coaches who can provide guidance on how to cut weight safely and effectively.
  5. Monitor weight regularly: Fighters should weigh themselves frequently during the weight cutting process to ensure they are on track to make weight. This can help them adjust their weight-cutting strategies if necessary.
  6. Avoid drastic measures: Fighters should avoid drastic measures such as saunas, steam rooms, or excessive cardio as these methods can be dangerous and lead to dehydration.
  7. Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help fighters maintain their weight and have enough energy for training and competition.

By following these tips, fighters can make weight safely and avoid the penalties that come with missing weight in MMA and UFC events.

Examples of Fighters Missing Weight in UFC & MMA

Missing weight in a professional fighting event can have serious consequences for fighters and their careers. Here are some notable examples of fighters who have missed weight in the UFC and other MMA competitions:

Fighter Name Event Weight Class Consequences
Mackenzie Dern UFC 224 Women’s strawweight Dern missed weight by 7 pounds and was fined 30% of her purse, which went to her opponent Amanda Cooper.
John Lineker UFC 219 Bantamweight Lineker missed weight by 2 pounds and was fined 30% of his purse, which went to his opponent, Jimmie Rivera.
Yoel Romero UFC 225 Middleweight Romero missed weight by 0.2 pounds and was fined 20% of his purse, which went to his opponent, Robert Whittaker. However, Romero still fought and won the fight.

These examples show that even well-known fighters who have extensive experience in their respective weight classes can still miss weight and face penalties. It is crucial for fighters to make weight in a professional competition to avoid consequences that can negatively impact their careers.

How Missing Weight Impacts Fight Outcomes

When a fighter misses weight, they are typically at a disadvantage come fight night. This is because of two main factors: strength loss and energy depletion.

First, when a fighter cuts weight and depletes their body of water and glycogen, they also lose muscle mass, which can impact their strength. This can make it more difficult for them to execute their game plan and perform at their best.

Second, weight cutting can also lead to energy depletion, which can result in a fighter being less explosive and having poor endurance. This can be especially detrimental in MMA fights, where fighters need to be able to move quickly and maintain their energy levels throughout the fight.

In some cases, a fighter missing weight can also impact the psychology of the fight. If their opponent made weight, they may feel that they have an unfair advantage and become more confident. On the other hand, the fighter who missed weight may feel ashamed or embarrassed, which can impact their mental state and focus during the fight.

The Role of Weight Classes in MMA & UFC

Weight classes play a critical role in MMA and UFC events. Fighters are required to compete within specific weight limits to create a level playing field and prevent unfair advantages. Weight classes have been around since the early days of the sport, and they continue to evolve to this day.

The UFC currently has eight weight classes for men and four for women. The weight limits range from 115 pounds for the women’s strawweight division to 265 pounds for the men’s heavyweight division. The weight classes are designed to ensure that fighters of similar size and weight compete against each other.

Weight classes also help to prevent fighters from cutting too much weight, which can be dangerous and lead to health complications. By having weight limits, fighters are encouraged to compete at their natural weight and avoid extreme weight cutting methods that can be harmful.

Weight classes also make it easier for fans to follow the sport and understand who is competing against whom. When fighters are within the same weight class, it creates a fair and equal playing field and ensures that the best fighter wins.

How COVID-19 has Impacted Fighter Weight Cutting

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives, including the world of MMA and UFC events. One crucial area that has seen changes is fighter weigh-ins, particularly in terms of safety and social distancing measures.

With the pandemic affecting travel restrictions and the availability of training facilities, fighters have had to adjust their weight-cutting plans. Some have found it challenging to adapt to new routines, which has increased the risk of dehydration and other health complications.

UFC Weigh-in Protocols

The UFC has implemented strict weigh-in protocols to ensure the safety of fighters and staff during the pandemic. The organization has divided weigh-ins into two phases: initial weigh-ins and official weigh-ins.

Initial weigh-ins are conducted the day before the fight, while official weigh-ins happen on fight day itself. The UFC has also established a designated area where fighters can safely cut weight without compromising social distancing guidelines.

Fighter Weigh-ins during a Pandemic

Fighters have had to deal with unique challenges during the pandemic, such as training at home without proper equipment and finding ways to cut weight safely without access to gyms and nutritionists.

The UFC has provided resources and support to fighters during this time, such as virtual weigh-ins and advice from nutrition experts. However, some fighters have reported difficulty adjusting to the new weight-cutting protocols and have experienced health complications as a result.

Despite these challenges, the MMA and UFC communities have adapted to the new normal, and fighters have continued to compete in safe and controlled environments. With the pandemic still ongoing, it remains to be seen how weigh-in protocols will evolve in the future.

FAQ – What Happens if a Fighter Misses Weight?

Missing weight can have significant consequences for a fighter and the fight itself. Here are some commonly asked questions about what happens when a fighter fails to make weight:

What Happens if a Fighter Misses Weight?

If a fighter misses weight, they may face penalties such as fines, losing a portion of their purse, or even disqualification from the fight. The exact consequences depend on the athletic commission and the rules of the event.

Can the Fight Still Happen if a Fighter Misses Weight?

Yes, the fight can still happen even if a fighter misses weight. However, the fighter who made weight may have the option to decline the fight, or the athletic commission may cancel the fight altogether.

Does the Fighter Who Made Weight Automatically Win if Their Opponent Misses Weight?

No, the fighter who made weight does not automatically win if their opponent misses weight. The fight will still take place, and the outcome will be determined by the rules of the event.

Can Fighters Make Weight on the Day of the Fight?

No, fighters cannot make weight on the day of the fight. Weigh-ins usually take place one day before the fight to allow fighters time to rehydrate and refuel before the fight.

What Happens if Both Fighters Miss Weight?

If both fighters miss weight, the fight may still take place, but it will likely be under different rules and regulations. The athletic commission may also cancel the fight.

Overall, it’s essential for fighters to make weight to avoid penalties and to ensure that the fight can proceed as planned. If you’re a fighter, be sure to follow weight-cutting best practices and work with a coach or nutritionist to stay on track.