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Five of the Worst Weight Cuts in MMA History

Zoila Gurgel
Lost: About 30 pounds for three consecutive fights during Bellator’s Season 3 115-pound tournament.

The fighter formerly known as Zoila Frausto only had about a year and a half of professional MMA experience under her belt when she accepted a spot in Bellator’s 115-pound women’s tournament — despite the fact that she had spent the majority of her career competing at 135. In the end, it was a storybook run for Zoila, culminating in a shock upset of Japanese MMA icon Megumi Fujii, but getting into the cage every month was agonizing. We’ll let MMA Rising tell the tale:

Dropping close to 30 pounds every four weeks, as her shell-shocked body clung to every bit of nutrition that it could, a weakened Frausto was only able to undergo limited training as she stuck to a strict diet. Discouraged and on the verge of a collapse, Frausto worked only on cardio while eating bland foods in an effort to lose weight for her fights. The trying times even led to Frausto dreaming of eating regular foods, only to repeatedly wake up at all hours of the night in a panic that she would weigh in heavy.

Amidst the emotional and physical rollercoaster, Frausto was still expected to fight three times in order to win the Bellator tournament. On August 19th at Bellator 25, she used a size and strength advantage to hand Jessica Pene the first defeat of her career. Six weeks later, while still struggling to maintain weight near 115 pounds, Frausto earned a controversial Split Decision victory over Jessica Aguilar at Bellator 31…

As Frausto continued to battle the struggles of limited training and even more limited food, she had to prepare for the biggest fight of her career; a showdown with pound-for-pound standout and MMA legend Megumi Fujii. Though dehydrated and unable to adequately train, Frausto managed to stay on her feet for nearly the entire fight with Fujii and earned another close decision win to become the first Bellator 115-pound women’s champion…

As she returned to a more normal schedule following the tournament, Frausto opted to remain on a strict nutritional diet, even through the holiday season. With her body still in shock, any little bit of food resulted in large gains of weight until Frausto was all the way back up to 155 pounds.

Frausto last competed at a more natural weight of 125 pounds, outpointing Karina Hallinan in March at Bellator 35.

Anthony Johnson
Lost: 44 pounds before his knockout win over Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104 (10/24/09)

The notoriously massive welterweight came in at an unforgivable 176 pounds before his scrap against Yoshida, and was so exhausted by the cut that he could barely walk without assistance on weigh-in day. So what went wrong? Rumble had suffered a knee injury while preparing for a scheduled fight against Matt Brown earlier in the year, and ballooned up to 220 while rehabbing. He thought he could pull it off — dropping from heavyweight to welterweight in a single training camp — but things went south in the week before weigh-ins.

“When you get injured, you don’t do much,” Johnson said before the fight. “You sit around and eat and get fat. That’s exactly what I did…Usually I start at 210. That ten pound difference made a big impact. You know what I mean? It kicked my butt, but I was prepared for it. I was prepared to just grind it out and get down to 171. And I was in the sauna for an hour and I lost three or four pounds right off the bat. I knew it was coming off. That’s why I said that if I had another hour or two, I would have been able to make it. I got out of the sauna, and I think I was out too long because my sweating stopped, and when I got back in the sauna I couldn’t get anything else off. That’s what broke me.”

Honorable Mentions:

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Lost: 45 pounds in eight weeks before his unanimous decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 114 (5/29/10)

45 pounds is a daunting drop, but unlike the other fighters on this list, Rampage didn’t have to ruin himself to make it happen. All credit for that goes to Mike Dolce, the “Dolce Diet” founder who has become a patron saint of weight-cutting lost causes. As Dolce himself explained, “That was one where everybody – even guys on his team, his management – they wrote it off as being nearly impossible…But I was able to get him to lose forty-five pounds in eight weeks, step on the scale, feel great, then go out there and compete with Rashad [Evans] the entire time.”

James Irvin
Lost: An unspecified amount of water, muscle, and possibly bone, before his TKO loss to Alessio Sakara at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones (3/21/10)

We actually have no idea what James Irvin went through to make 185 pounds last year, and frankly, we don’t want to know. Irvin looked like a dying man at the weigh-ins for his fight against Sakara; even before he was stopped in the first round, it was clear to everyone watching that his desperate drop to middleweight was a terrible idea. Luckily, he returned to light-heavyweight in his next fight, and things have been going just great since then.


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