There is a similar sight at every, single UFC show just 24 hours before the fights begin when all of the fighters have to make the agreed upon weight limit for their bouts.
The weigh-ins have become part of the show over the years as fighters hit the scales and then face off in front of UFC president Dana White. Sometimes there are fireworks, and sometimes there’s even an accidental kiss, but it’s always a spectacle and a great kick-off before the event takes place the next night.
There are times, however, when a fighter will step on the scale looking a little less than joyous with a sunken in stomach and sullen eyes staring back at the crowd while wanting nothing more than a sip of water.
These are the pains of weight cutting, and almost every fighter that’s ever competed in MMA has had to go through it (except for a portion of heavyweight fighters). While some have been conditioned about the tortures of weight cutting through years of wrestling or other combat sports, it never makes it any easier when shedding the last few pounds.
Recently, a fighter in Brazil named Leandro ‘Feijao’ Souza passed away during the throws of cutting weight for a bout he had taken in the Shooto promotion. While doctors are still examining the exact cause of death, the fighter is believed to have suffered a stroke and there is a possibility weight cutting may have played a part.
Souza was said to be attempting a weight cut where he would have shed an excess of 30 pounds.
On Monday while doing a press tour of Brazil, former middleweight champion Anderson Silva was asked about the rigors of weight cutting, something he’s been doing for the last 16 years where he’s competed at weights lower than 170 pounds while also ballooning up to over 205 pounds before as well.
"I have proper nutrition, I have a lot of time to make weight," Silva said. "When I get to the fight, I always get there four or five kilos above at the most. I can lose that weight very easily. I don’t wait to lose weight on the last minute. So I really do believe that my team does the best thing, I’ve never had a problem making weight.
"I think the biggest problem is for athletes to accept fights in the last minute and wait to cut weight at the last minute. No one can do that. There’s no way you can recover your weight from one day to the next. That makes it very difficult."
Fighters have definitely gotten smarter over the years when it comes to cutting weight, and nutritionists like Mike Dolce have made a career out of feeding athletes the correct way so that when it comes time to cut those extra pounds it’s no longer a sheer act of misery.
Still with the competitive nature of MMA where the difference between wins and losses could come down to just being a little bit bigger than an opponent, everyone wants to make as much sacrifice as possible which routinely means cutting even more weight.
"Cutting weight is a part of this business, it’s a part of combat sports," White said. "Whether it’s wrestling, or boxing or mixed martial arts. I agree 100-percent with what Anderson said. Where you see the dangerous situations are guys who take last minute fights and have to lose a ton of weight. It’s never good.
"In the UFC, these guys have plenty of time. They know when they have to fight. They know the time they have. They diet, they do the proper nutrition to get down the right way and then as they get closer to what they do, they cut a few pounds. That’s the healthy, normal way to do it."
White understands as much as anybody what it means to get a call from matchmaker Joe Silva offering someone a chance to step up and compete in the UFC. Injuries happen all the time, and that void has to be filled by somebody willing to take a late notice matchup.
Still, the dangers of cutting massive amounts of weight are never worth the risk of serious health problems according to White, and in those situations fighters just have to learn to their limits.
"I don’t think the cutting weight process is ever going to be perfect. But I said it today in an interview I did with a gentleman earlier, I don’t care what level you fight on, no fight is worth dying over," White said. "These guys who take diuretics and all these different things to cut weight, it’s crazy.
"If you can’t make the weight, don’t take the fight. There’s going to be plenty of fights out there."