Georges St.-Pierre has been around for a while in the sport of MMA.
Though the former welterweight king is coming off a four-year hiatus as he prepares to face middleweight champion Michael Bisping in a title match at UFC 217, he’s seen many of the sport’s changes take place from a first-hand perspective.
Many of the changes were implemented by WME-IMG, the UFC’s new owners. From refined drug-testing procedures to altered rules for competitors in the octagon, many aspects of the sport have evolved.
However, not everyone believes these changes are for the best. One change has garnered mixed feedback, despite purported intentions to address one of MMA’s current problems – extreme weight cutting.
Fighter used to step on the scale during the afternoon of the day before their fight. The weigh-ins were moved up several hours, but this hasn’t had the effect many were hoping for.
Over three-dozen fighters have missed weight in the 17 months since the new changes were made. Even though GSP hasn’t had to weigh-in according to the new procedures yet, he’s already stated he isn’t crazy about the idea.
“I think the new rule of doing the weigh-in earlier is bad because it makes the fighter cut more weight. They have more time for recuperation before the fight. I think it’s the worst thing they could do. It’s good for rehydration because you have more time, but if you know you have more time, you’ll cut more weight. I think it’s bad. I think it’s very bad.”
A few different ideas have been tossed around in the discussion of just how the UFC can address this issue. Some had suggested using more weight classes to dissuade fighters from shedding too many pounds in order to get an advantage come fight-night. But many people in the MMA community, including UFC president Dana White, have stated this is not the answer either.
Much like GSP’s assessment of the early weigh-ins, additional weight classes could encourage more fighters to try extreme cuts in an effort to gain a size advantage. This would be a possibility whether they’re fighting in the promotion’s current classes, or any the promotion chose to add.
Thankfully, the UFC has yet to see any fatalities as a result of weight cuts. However, this is always a possibility when fighters push their bodies to the limit. Many fighters have been hospitalized following extreme cuts. Even those who make weight sometimes feel the effects of large cuts afterwards.
Kevin Lee recently missed weight on his first attempt at UFC 216. He lost an additional 1.5 pounds within an extra hour, after receiving the go-ahead from doctors. Despite having a couple of competitive rounds in his title bout with Tony Ferguson, Lee appeared to tire in the third round and was submitted with a triangle choke.
GSP did suggest conducting the weight-ins over the course of several days. This would mean more complications for the fighters, but would ensure they cut weight at a more controlled pace.