UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has slammed the UFC's handling of fighters who fail to make weight, saying the current system is not working.
Adesanya, who defended his title convincingly against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on Sunday, made the comments after two athletes on the card failed to make weight.
One of those fighters was featherweight Ludovit Klein, who fought against Kiwi Shane Young. Young made weight while Klein tipped the scales at more than 2kg above the division's weight limit. Young was beaten by knockout in the first round. The other, Russian featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov, missed weight by the same amount but lost a split decision to Canadian Hakeem Dawodu.
The punishment for a fighter missing weight in the UFC is that their opponent can decide not to go ahead with the bout. If they do, the athlete who missed weight forfeits either 20 or 30 per cent of their purse for the fight, depending on how badly they miss the weight, which is then added to their opponent's pay cheque.
Adesanya says that punishment is nowhere near enough, especially with UFC athletes having a two-hour window to do so at weigh-ins.
"It's just cheating," Adesanya said after UFC 253. "I saw the guy that Dawodu fought, right after (he weighed in) with 90 minutes left (to make weight), he's on the blueberries and on the water and whatnot.
"Some of them are making money outside the UFC, some of them have trust funds, 30 per cent of their purse ain't s***, but I'm telling you if you fine someone 90 per cent of their purse if they miss weight, I guarantee, no matter how much money you're making, no one's going to go through this whole camp and be willing to give 90 per cent of their pay to the other guy.
"They will take that 90 minutes they have left to make the weight. They'll take every second to make the weight. So enough of this 30 per cent bulls*** because it's not working."
For many, cutting weight is one of the toughest parts of mixed martial arts. An arduous process at the best of times, but it has long been a part of the sport, with the basic principle being to allow fighters to drop to a class lower than their walking weight in the hope of gaining a strength advantage over their opponents.
It's a delicate process in which fighters spend the majority of their camp bringing down their body fat before trying to artificially manipulate systems in the body to artificially lose weight for a very brief amount of time in the week leading up to the fight. This is generally done by losing water weight via strategic practices focused on water intake and release; often, fighters will use a sauna or hot bath to help to sweat out water weight.
Making weight is an important part of the job for a prize fighter and when Adesanya was asked for his thoughts on the bouts of teammates Young and Kai Kara-France, who fell to a second-round submission, Adesanya made his position very clear.
"Kai hurt his guy but kudos to the other guy, he hit a spinning elbow, and Shane's guy, who cares – he missed weight. You cheated; it doesn't matter.
"F*** the other guy, he missed weight. If you miss weight, don't take the fight or move up in weight."