Gunnar Nelson: Weight cutting has become "ridiculous"

The Icelandic fighter has criticised weight cutting practices within the UFC

Gunnar Nelson

Image: AP Photo/John Locher

With just over 24 hours to go before his interim lightweight title fight, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital due to complications from his weight cut.

Having talked the talk in the build up to this fight - and even during his last fight with Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in New York - the Russian was forced to pull out of his bout with Tony Ferguson. In an attempt to rescue the bout, the UFC offered Ferguson a bout with Johnson.

Ferguson declined because he claimed it would not have been for the title and would have been for less money. Just like that the co-main event was scrapped.

Weight cutting has become a serious issue in the UFC in both the male and female divisions. A female featherweight division was established to help accommodate Cristiane Justino (Cris Cyborg) who has often struggled to make weight at 135lbs and who instead would fight at a catchweight of 140lbs.

Johny Hendricks is another who has struggled and recently missed weight at UFC 207, weighing in a 3.5lbs over the 170lbs limit.

Fellow welterweight Gunnar Nelson has today hit out at weight cutting practices within the UFC and claims that fighters who compete at certain weight classes should be made to fight at a higher weight.

"Welterweight has always been one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC," he told Newstalk.com. "There’s definitely some excellent fighters. Some of the new weight cut rules seem to be pushing some of the other guys up, which is fair.

"It’s a good change for the whole thing. We might get some good lightweights up as well. We already have at least two.

"But this weight cut thing is so ridiculous where two guys are the same weight, cut down f**king 10 kilos and then meet at the same weight. The next day, they’re both the same weight, but it's still about 10 kilos heavier than their weight class.

"What is the point of this? There’s absolutely no point. I myself only cut about five kilos from the very start. I walk around about 82 kilos, so I go down to about 77 kilos. Most of these other guys are walking around at about 90 kilos. 

"I haven’t struggled because it’s so little for me. Most guys tell me to go down to lightweight, because they are mostly my weight.

"Obviously the weight makes a difference, whether the guy is heavier or lighter.

"Fighters prefer to be heavier which is very understandable. The more muscle you have comes from the weight and the power you can get from that. A few kilos here and there are the difference, I just don’t understand why they can’t fight guys in their own weight-class.

"Why do we keep this whole theatre going. It’s dumb, everybody suffers and I just don’t see the point of it."

The Icelandic fighter admits that there has been some progress made by the promotion, but that more needs to be done to stop the drastic cuts that can ultimately ruin fight cards.

"I think there should be weight gain limits for one thing. Another is that you shouldn’t be allowed into the Octagon over a certain weight. That would change everything. It would stop them if they want to go in there drained from being your usual weight of 90 kilos.

"You could look at not weighing heavier than the weight class above you. So we wouldn’t be allowed to go above middleweight."

Nelson faces #28 ranked Alan Jouban in his next fight in London this weekend. The California native is coming off the back of three wins, most recently a unanimous decision victory over Mike Perry and says he has no problem adjusting to meet Jouban's height and reach advantage.

"I’ve always been used to fighting the bigger man. It’s a style that you have to learn and adapt to fight a bigger man."

Watch Gunnar in action at UFC Fight Night: Manuwa vs. Anderson live in the UK on BT Sport from 9pm GMT on Saturday, March 18, or catch the UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims from 5:30pm GMT.