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When making weights, why are some MMA fighters sometimes below the weight limit? i.e., why not stopping the weight cut when the weight limit (upper bound) is reached?

E.g., looking at this mmajunkie.com article (mirror):

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Cris Cyborg (145) vs. Holly Holm (144) – for women’s featherweight title
  • Edson Barboza (155) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (155.5)
  • Marc Diakiese (155.5) vs. Dan Hooker (155.5)
  • Cynthia Calvillo (116) vs. Carla Esparza (115.5)
  • Carlos Condit (170.5) vs. Neil Magny (170.5)

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Michal Oleksiejczuk (203.5) vs. Khalil Rountree (205)
  • Rick Glenn (145.5) vs. Myles Jury (146)
  • Omari Akhmedov (185.5) vs. Marvin Vettori (185.5)
  • Matheus Nicolau (125.5) vs. Louis Smolka (125.5)

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Mark De La Rosa (135.5) vs. Tim Elliott (135)
  • Well I know this is a minority scenario, but when Conor McGregor fought Nate Diaz he weighed in at 168lb for a 170lb limit because if anything he had to gain weight for that fight. Depending on the person/limit that could be a factor. Also for some people it may be hard to lose exactly x amount of weight. They usually dehydrate before the weigh ins so it could be easier to play it safe and dehydrate to a certain level, than stopping when you hit the weight bang on. I think this is more of a nutrition based topic, but that's just my best guess. – Andre Jan 7 '18 at 22:37
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From UFC RULES AND REGULATIONS:

UNIFIED RULES AND OTHER MMA REGULATIONS (emphasis added)

  1. Weight Divisions Except with the approval of the Commission, or its executive director, the classes for mixed martial arts contests or exhibitions and the weights for each class shall be:

    Strawweight up to 115 pounds
    Flyweight over 115 pounds to 125
    Bantamweight over 125 to 135 pounds
    Women's Bantamweight over 125 to 135 pounds
    Featherweight over 135 to 145 pounds
    Lightweight over 145 to 155 pounds
    Welterweight over 155 to 170 pounds
    Middleweight over 170 to 185 pounds
    Light Heavyweight over 185 to 205 pounds
    Heavyweight over 205 to 265 pounds
    Super Heavyweight over 265 pounds

    In non-championship fights, there shall be allowed a 1 pound weigh allowance. In championship fights, the participants must weigh no more than that permitted for the relevant weight division.

    The Commission may also approve catch weight bouts, subject to their review and discretion. For example, the Commission may still decide to allow the contest the maximum weight allowed is 177 pounds if it feels that the contest would still be fair, safe and competitive.

    In addition, if one athlete weighs 264 pounds while the opponent weighs 267 pounds, the Commission may still decide to allow the contest if it determines that the contest would still be fair, safe and competitive in spite of the fact that the two contestants technically weighed in differing weight classes.

I don't know why you are thinking some fighters are below the weight limit. For example,

  • Champ Cris Cyborg (145) vs. Holly Holm (144) – for women’s featherweight title
    Holly Holm is inside the weight limit of Featherweight (over 135 to 145 pounds)

  • Michal Oleksiejczuk (203.5) vs. Khalil Rountree (205)
    Michal Oleksiejczuk is also inside the weight limit of Light Heavyweight (over 185 to 205 pounds)

  • Mark De La Rosa (135.5) vs. Tim Elliott (135)
    Mark De La Rosa is above the weight limit of Bantamweight (over 125 to 135 pounds) and not below the limit but because of 1 pound weigh allowance (non-championship fights) is allowed to fight.

So for your question,

When making weights, why are some MMA fighters sometimes below the weight limit?

They are not below the weight limit, while some of them are above but because of 1 pound weigh allowance for non-championship fight they are allowed to compete.

  • 2
    Thank you, sorry when I meant weight limit, I implied the upper bound (since typically fighters have to go through some weight cut prior to the fight). Weighting less typically represents a disadvantage for a fighter, so I'm surprised that fighters aren't all at the maximum weight limit. (except for super heavyweight and often heavyweight) – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 1 '18 at 8:54
  • @FranckDernoncourt Missing weight also represents a disadvantage. – paparazzo Jan 2 '18 at 15:48
  • @Paparazzi Sure, I guess my question is simply: why not stopping the weight cut when the weight limit (upper bound) is reached? – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 2 '18 at 19:53
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I also sometimes wondered this - especially when you see their drained faces stumbling to the scale and they you hear they're 0.5 pound under. You would think they'd die for that 0.5 pound glass of water...But you need to consider following:

  • Altho scales in the backstage are calibrated to fix the official scale, you never know..
  • If they'd allow themselves that glass of water just to realize that it put them over the limit, they get to either give up 30% of their purse to the opponent or get another hour or two to lose that weight. It would cut their recovery time by those hours. That's why they rather give themselves that half a pound reserve (if their body allows them to)..
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