Lee on weight cut: I didn’t know where I was
UFC lightweight Kevin Lee suffered a problematic weight cut for Tony Ferguson at UFC 216. Lee missed by 1.5 pounds initially, but was given an extra hour and succeeded. However, he looking like someone stepping out of a hospital bed and was as well suffering from a staph infection. The extreme cut robbed Lee and the fans of his best performance in the biggest fight of his life. The fighter appeared recently on Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast to discuss it.
“The actual weight cut itself didn’t start off bad,” he began, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “It started off the same as most of my other ones. I normally come into fight week about 176 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.”
“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.”
Lee said post-fight that he was considering moving up. However, on the absence of the UFC adopting Foster’s new ABC approved 155/165/175 weight divisions, which will happen in time, but likely in the next year, it appears as if Lee likely intends to stay at 155.
“We’re gonna see,” he said. “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? 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.”
Part of CSAC ED Andy Foster’s 10 Point Plan to solve the deadly problem of extreme weight cutting in MMA is a fight day weigh-in. If the fighter is more than 10% over their weigh-in weight, it will be strongly recommended they move up a division. Nevada is unfortunately not progressive, and didn’t care enough to check, but Lee was 183 at fight time. He was two divisions up by the time he stepped into the Octagon. He cut over 15% of his bodyweight.
“A five to eight percent decrease can cause fatigue and dizziness,” explains wiki. “Loss of over ten percent of total body water can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. Death occurs at a loss of between fifteen and twenty-five percent of the body water.“
This wasn’t a weight cut that went wrong. It was wrong by design. And the NAC blithely allowed it to happen. They have to answer for that failure.