At UFC 274, an unprecedented event occurred when lightweight champion Charles Oliveira failed to make the 155-pound limit for his title defense against Justin Gaethje. Oliveira initially weighed in at 155.5 pounds and was given an additional hour to cut the last half pound, but was unable to do so. As a result of the miss, Oliveira was stripped of his title and fined a portion of his purse. Fortunately for Oliveira, the weight miss did not seem to affect his performance, as “Do Bronx” dominated Gaethje, submitting him in the first round with a rear-naked choke.
Afterward, Oliveira hopped the cage fence and asked UFC president Dana White to restore his title to him, but White refused. And for fellow lightweight Joe Lauzon, it’s the right decision.
“I think it sucks, but what are you going to do?” Lauzon said on The MMA Hour. “How do you go and make an exception for that? You know you’re supposed to make ‘55 on the nose. I don’t know when they checked their weight, they could have checked their weight at 5 a.m. and just not worried about it, [but] I think you have to be ready. You have to be ready to make an adjustment. If I was a half pound over, I would have made the extra weight.
“Maybe this is a cautionary tale — don’t be so freaking big. Don’t have such hard weight cuts. This is the reality of it. You want to be as big as you can, but there’s too big, and you need to be ready for that.”
Oliveira’s weight miss garnered mixed reaction from his fellow fighters. Some came out against Oliveira for the failure, while some fighters who were competing at UFC 274 alleged that the UFC’s scale at the hotel, which is calibrated to mirror the official one used by athletic commissions, was “messed up”. Oliveira himself said as much, saying that he was on weight Thursday night, and blaming the scale for his miss.
But for Lauzon, who was set to compete at UFC 274 and successfully made weight — his opponent, Donald Cerrone, was scratched from the card on fight day, so Lauzon ultimately did not fight — it’s a matter of proper preparation.
“I control everything I can. I have a good scale. I have a $130 scale. … We take it on every single fight trip,” Lauzon said. “You’ll see in every single video, go back and watch my video blogs, I check my weight on their scale and then I put my scale beside it and I check.
“I know what my scale is going to be. I have my scale with me the entire week. I check my weight four or five times a day. I’m checking my weight nonstop. I checked my weight five times from when I woke up to when I stepped on the scale. I knew exactly where I was. At 4 a.m., I woke up, I checked my weight. I peed, I checked my weight. I pooped, I checked my weight. I peed again, I checked my weight. I checked my weight all the time. That’s what you do.
“They were posting on Thursday night, saying they were on weight, which is awesome. That’s what I try to do. I went to bed at ‘56.6 on Thursday night. I was confident I was going to sleep it off, but when I woke up at 4am, I checked my weight, I knew I was good. I wasn’t worried about it. You don’t just check your weight and are like, ‘Oh, I’m good,’ and never check it again. You check it nonstop.”
While Lauzon himself didn’t have any issues with making weight, the lightweight veteran said he heard the complaints from some other fighters during the ceremonial weigh-ins, and opined that the UFC may have recalibrated their scale in the early morning hours Friday. Another possible explanation for alleged issues with the scale was put forward by UFC president Dana White, who suggested that non-U.S. fighters may have altered the promotion’s scale, adjusting it to kilograms instead of pounds. (White has now said the UFC will be hiring a security guard to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen in the future).
But for Lauzon, at the end of the day, rules are rules, be it for the lightweight title or just a normal fight in the division.
“It’s the rules we live by,” Lauzon said. “If ‘Cowboy’ was ‘56.2, I’d be like, ‘Go to the sauna.’ I think they fine guys 30 percent. I don’t know how much ‘Cowboy’ gets, but I’m sure his show money is over $200,000. That half a pound is $60,000.”