Weight cutting in MMA (mixed-martial-arts) has been a hot topic within the combat sports community over the past couple of years.
At last weekend’s UFC 216 PPV (pay-per-view) event in Las Vegas, Nevada, it resurfaced. Kevin Lee initially missed weight for his interim lightweight title bout against Tony Ferguson, which served as the main event of the show.
Lee came in one pound over the 155-pound limit and had to cut the last pound and had one hour to do it. He was able to do so despite him battling a staph infection.
After the situation, Lee went on record by admitting that the entire process was among his worst ever and “damn near killed” him.
Lee continued to speak out about the incident and decided to go on former UFC title contender Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast (h/t MMA Fighting) to let his message known about weight cutting.
During the interview, he went into detail about his how what had been a successful weight cut turned bad on the morning of weigh-ins.
“The actual weight cut itself didn’t start off bad. It started off the same as most of my other ones. I normally come into fight week about 176 [pounds], and I’ve got about 20 pounds to cut, this time 21, so I came in at 176. I keep details of all my weight cuts, so I know exactly where to dial in and where to turn it up. So I was following one of my weight cuts that went really well when I went in Ireland, and everything was fine, and we dialed it back. I normally don’t start the actual water cut until about 10 PM, but we dialed it back to about 5 PM to give myself the extra time for the extra pound, and the weight started coming off quick. I normally go to sleep the night before at about 165, this time I went to sleep about 161 so when we woke up at 5 AM, we kind of were in too much of a lackadaisical – I was kind of in a good mood, like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be smooth. I’ve only got six pounds to cut. I normally cut nine pounds.’ I thought it was gonna be smooth and I took it a little too light.
“The first three hours I only got a pound off. Put yourself in my shoes, it’s 8:00, the weigh-ins start at 9:00, and I’ve still got five pounds to cut; so they’re literally throwing boiling water into the hot tub with me because I’ve got to get it off now, get it off quick. . .
“So right around 10:30 is when the doctor came up, and we were still a pound and a half over, and he was saying I had to weigh in by 11:00 and then they’d give me the extra hour. I was hoping that somehow their scale was off and they would just give me the pound. I was hoping, and I was praying, but it was what it was.”
Things got scary for Lee was when he weighed in at 156 pounds and due to the fact that he was within two pounds of the target weight, he had to try to cut the extra pound under NAC protocols.
“That last hour that I had to cut that extra pound, I don’t even know how I got it off. I don’t know where I was. Your mind just doesn’t want to work when you’re in those kind of states.
“Like I said, I don’t even remember much. I don’t really know. I was kind of out of it, and I just left it up to my coaches, and they got the job done. Once I actually made the weight, as soon as I sat down I was more exhausted than I – I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like that in my life. I was carrying the stress of the whole event too, so it was a lot.”
“We’re gonna see. I’ve taken four fights in the last year. It’s been a major strain on my body. I think right now I need some time and see how everything shakes out in the division. Does McGregor fight Diaz? Does he fight Tony? Do they open up 165 [pounds]? Who’s there? Who’s gonna be top dog? I’m gonna let everything shake out. I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting these past couple of months, so I need some time to let my body rest.”