Combat Sports

Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape Scrapped Due to (Another) Weight-Cut Related Hospitalization

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The highly anticipated flyweight bout between Rogerio Bontorin and Manel Kape has been scrapped from the PPV portion of the of UFC 275 main card, due to weight management issues, per a UFC Official early Friday.

Bontorin was hoping to shake off his current funk, having gone 1-3 in his last four, including a razor-close split decision loss against Brandon Royval back in January. He was set to compete against surging Rizin veteran Manel Kape. Bontorin reportedly had another 4.5lbs to cut before the weigh-ins, when he began to report a stabbing pain in his kidney and has subsequently been transported to the hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Kape has not seen action since his walk-off KO of Zhalgas Zumagulov back in December. His fight with Sumudaerji that was scheduled for April 23rd was also scrapped, as Kape tested positive for trace amounts of turinabol.

The One(s) That Got Away

It seems as if there is scarcely a card that doesn’t suffer at least one weight-cutting controversy. UFC 275 is only the most recent card to have a fight scrapped because of such an issue. Only last month, the main event of UFC 274 was in question when Charles Oliveira missed weight by half a pound. With hindsight, how close we were to a Namajunas vs. Esparza main event is terrifying, especially given how that fight played out.

This year has seen its fair share of canceled fights due to weight-cutting conundrums. In February we saw Dos Anjos vs. Fiziev fall through due to COVID-19 protocols, only for Islam Makhachev to blue-ball all of us into believing he would take the fight on short notice. Had Makhachev stepped up to the plate, it would have gone a long way in making up for the number of times he and Khabib have had to pull out of fights due to weight cutting.

We lost an entire year of Khabib in his prime due to his weight-cutting shenanigans. However, after initially accepting the bout, Makhachev and his team began complaining about the division, suggesting a catchweight fight at 165, before refusing to fight at 170.

We also lost one of the most highly anticipated 145lb clashes of the year to a weight cut issue at UFC 270, when Ilia Topuria was told by medical staff that any further attempts to cut weight could result in permanent damage, despite the fact that it was Jourdain who was the late notice replacement. Topuria would subsequently face Jai Herbert at UFC London in April, and folded the much mechanically larger man in Herbert in the second round, after barely surviving the first.

Dangerous for Some, Necessary for Others.

It doesn’t take a doctor or a rocket scientist to tell you that purposefully dehydrating yourself to the verge of kidney failure the day before a fight is a bad idea, as evidenced by Bontorin this week, Khabib back in 2017, and Darren Till going temporarily blind before fighting Steven Thompson. However, many fighters can not escape it, for even if there was an individual desire to fight at closer to their natural weight, what are you going to do when your opponent weighs 20lbs more?

Lets look at Costa vs. Vettori. Originally scheduled for 185lbs, Costa reported weighing 211lbs earlier that week. The bout was subsequently rescheduled twice, once at 195lbs, and again for 205lbs when Costa said that he didn’t want to cut any more weight, reportedly weighing as much as 230lbs before camp due to a torn bicep. However, when the bout was rescheduled for LHW, Marvin Vettori also weighed in at 205lbs, and by no means looked bloated with water weight, but rather, looked healthy and filled out, a stark contrast to the ripped, screaming orc we saw fight Adesanya earlier last year.

Not only did Vettori go on to win the fight, but he took kicks and blows that would have rendered any other 185er on the planet dead, never mind unconscious, and he put on what was arguably his best performance in the UFC, all without cutting (much) weight.

However, many fighters have found their success at least in part because of their weight cutting. Conor McGregor allegedly weighed ~176lbs in the cage against Jose Aldo, Kamaru Usman supposedly walks over 200lbs and would rather fight for the LHW Title than challenge Adesanya due to their Nigerian heritage. Alexander Volkanovski also weighs nowhere near 145 in the cage, and we know that Deiveson Figueiredo suffers to make the championship limit at 125. Aljamain Sterling admitted to cutting 12lbs in the 24 hours before rematching Petr Yan on his recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, and is now walking around at 170lbs, and barely looks an ounce heavier than he did in the cage.

“All you motherf*ckers are [weight cutting]”

But if everyone is doing it, it’s fair, right? Colby Covington makes the decision not to cut to 155lbs, where his wrestling would see him decimating most of the top ten, be extremely competitive in the top five, and is clearly the best natural Welterweight on the planet, short of Usman. Dustin Poirier makes an even worse cut, allegedly from 187 to 155 throughout fight week, and it is clearly affecting his cardio, as seen by his disappointing performance at UFC 269 against Oliveira. Imagine what Justin Gaethje would do at Featherweight if he lost five pounds of muscle and cut another five pounds?

Something needs to be done about weight cutting, and hydration tests (as with any urine test) are fallible. To echo Michael Bisping and Joe Rogan among others, implementing a secondary fight night weigh-in with a 10% maximum allowance on Championship weight within the division, and the usual fines for missing weight, if you were over on fight night, would go a long way. This is the most foolproof way of at least minimizing the impact of the practice on the sport and the fighters.

Message to Fighters, Coaches, and Commissions

Your kidney and heart are tightly linked, and repeatedly putting your body through this is simply not benefiting you or your fighters in the long run. How can you expect to maintain your cardiovascular health if you’re robbing your system of the most essential-for-life part of your diet? How many more times do we have to go through this before it ruins a career, or worse? How many times can you or your fighters go through weight cuts? How many fighters complain about fighter pay, and fight once a year because they need an eight-week camp to get down to weight?

McGregor became a star because of his “anywhere, anytime” attitude, because he never left camp. Name another fighter who won five fights by finish in eighteen months. You can’t because Conor never got out of camp. Muhammad Mokaev is quickly rising in popularity for the same reason.

Stop. Cutting. Weight.

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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