Brian Melancon: I was dying from cutting too hard

Brian Melancon is coming off a first round KO (with 1 second left) of Seth Baczynski on the UFC 162 prelim card on July 6. Wednesday Melancon fights Kelvin Gastelum on the UFC Fight Night 27 main card. In a wide-ranging interview with MMAMania’s Brian Hemminger, Melancon discussed the dangers of extreme weight cutting.

Brian Hemminger: Some people might ask, “Why doesn’t he just fight at lightweight?” and you have fought at lightweight a few times in your career, but you’ve had some really tough cuts to 155 and some kidney issues. Can you talk about the toll cutting to lightweight takes on your body and perhaps relate some of your bad experiences?

Brian Melancon: I’m a thicker guy. Genetically, it takes a lot for me to get lean. I’m sure it’s like that for a lot of different people. Since basically I was 18 years old and I started working out, I’ve walked around at 185 pounds or more. That’s what I walked around back then and I’ve never been lighter than that. I used to be really big into weightlifting and I got as high as 220 at one point. That was kind of soft but when I was 210, that was only like 10 percent body fat so I’ve always carried around more mass for someone my height. It took a lot for me to get all that off.

I did go down to 155. My former coach at the time said I should go down to 155 and I thought he was crazy and that I couldn’t make it but then I decided I’d do it. I dieted for 12 weeks just to get to 175 and that was about as low as I could get and I cut 20 pounds from there and that’s what I would do. The first three fights I had were all at 155 and I would cut 17-18 pounds in the last 24 hours or so and it was brutal. I was literally dying a couple of times.

Then I had a few injuries and I had a full year off of fighting where I could only do strength and conditioning stuff. I don’t know if I gained muscle or weight that I couldn’t get off but when I came back for my fight after the time off, that was the fight at Bellator against Adam Schindler and I did the same things I did before to try and get my weight down and I just couldn’t get it down to where I needed to. I tried to cut too much weight and I spent four hours in the sauna on the day of weigh-ins but my body stopped sweating and I only lost half a pound. I still missed weight and it was horrible. I still fought at 155 the next fight against Todd Moore and it just became too much. I went into kidney failure after that and it was just too much for my body to take.

I decided that I was always strong enough to hang with the guys at 170 but it was because of my height and reach and my coach that told me to that made me go to 155. I decided it wasn’t worth it doing this to my body and to live my life like that. I feel a lot better at 170, a lot stronger and I don’t feel like anybody can really overpower me to the point I felt helpless. I felt strong enough to compete there and I feel I have the power. The only disadvantage is the reach but I feel like I can deal with that now so it’s not a problem.

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