As you probably know, MMA fighters cut a lot of weight in order to compete at a certain weight division. Because they want to weigh as much as possible on fight night, the fighters want to cut as much weight as they possibly can. But you want to know the specifics right? So in this post, I’m going to talk about what I could find relating to how much weight UFC fighters cut. So how many pounds do UFC fighters cut?
On average, a UFC fighter will cut about 15-20 pounds of just water in order to meet the weight limit. Prior to cutting water weight, a fighter will cut weight by lowering their body fat percentage. This amount depends on the fighter’s weight outside of competition, but it is estimated to be about 10 pounds for the average fighter. This means some fighters shed as much as 30 pounds in the lead up to a fight.
That’s the short answer, but there are a lot of details that go into answering this question. There are differences between each weight class, as well as between each individual fighter, in how much weight they cut. In the rest of the post, I’ll explain where I get the estimates from, as well as the differences mentioned.
How I Found The Estimated Weight
To find out how much weight a fighter cuts, we need to go directly to the source. That means finding interviews or verifiable sources that confirm a fighter’s walk around weight, as well as their weight before starting the water cut.
There are a few fighters who have publicly disclosed information about their weight and how much they cut. First I want to talk about an interesting case, and that is the fight between Henry Cejudo and Bantamweight (135) Champ TJ Dillashaw, which was at Flyweight (125).
The fight between Henry Cejudo (right) and TJ Dillashaw (left) gives us interesting insight into weight cutting, which I explain below.
Henry Cejudo vs TJ Dillashaw (Weight Differences)
This fight was between the Flyweight Champion (Henry Cejudo) and the Bantamweight Champion (TJ Dillashaw). The fight was held at Flyweight, as Dillashaw wanted to win the 125-pound title. This is interesting, as Dillashaw has claimed to be a relatively small bantamweight, yet he had never fought at flyweight before.
Another interesting factor is that Henry Cejudo is a big Flyweight, considering he has had issues making the weight previously, and had himself also fought at 135 pounds.
Let’s talk about how much they actually cut. In this video, at around 0:30 Dillashaw states that he, “woke up at 135”, meaning that his weight cut was mostly just lowering his overall weight, including muscle and fat. Dillashaw looked significantly smaller than when he fought at bantamweight (where he walked around at 155), which makes sense, since he was coming down a weight class.
Notice how much more drained Cejudo’s (right) face looks when compared to Dillashaw’s, due to the difference in the amount of weight they cut.
I am not sure how much overall weight he cut, but from what he stated in the video, we can assume that his water cut was only about 10 pounds.
Now let’s talk about Cejudo. In his post-fight press conference, at around 1:05, Cejudo said, “you have to understand, I went in at 146 pounds, strong”. This is in reference to his weight as he walked into the octagon. This is a HUGE difference from Dillashaw’s weight cut, as if what Cejudo says is true, then that means he cut 11 more pounds than Dillashaw did.
This means Cejudo’s weight cut was about 20 pounds, while Dillashaw’s was only 10, as mentioned before. But since we’re talking about Flyweights, I thought I’d bring in someone who is right in between Dillashaw and Cejudo in terms of weight, and that is none other than Demetrious Johnson.
Former UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson never has issues making weight, and makes the weight without restricting his diet.
Demetrious Johnson is the former Flyweight champion, being one of the most dominant UFC champions ever. He is also not shy when talking about weight, which he details in this video. Throughout the video and in other separate cases (such as on Joe Rogan’s show), Demetrious has said that he tends to walk around at 140 pounds. In fact, he told Joe Rogan that this is his optimal fight weight, and stated that he doesn’t have any strict requirements on his diet in order to make weight.
This is another interesting revelation, as it shows you how fight weights may vary between different fighters, with Demetrious only having to cut 15 pounds, in comparison to Cejudo and Dillashaw’s weight cuts. If we average out the three, we find that they cut about 15 pounds.
So the average small guy cuts 15 pounds. But what about bigger fighters?
Kevin Lee’s Weight Cut
Kevin Lee is a UFC fighter who most notably competed in the Lightweight division, but has recently decided to make a move to Welterweight. His decision is understandable when considering the amount of weight he has to cut. On Joe Rogan’s show, Kevin Lee detailed the amount of weight he cuts to get down to 155 pounds.
Kevin Lee has had issues making 155, including the weigh-in for his interim championship fight against Tony Ferguson.
Kevin Lee states that 4 weeks out from a fight, he will weigh around 185 pounds, later stating that this is his walk around weight. Lee also says that throughout his fight camp, he can diet down to about 176 pounds, meaning he cuts about 10 pounds through dieting alone.
He says that 176 pounds is his optimal weight, which is interesting when you consider that Demetrious Johnson maintains his ‘optimal weight’ in between fights, instead of dieting to reach that weight.
Lee says that the remaining weight cut is just water weight, meaning he cuts about 20 pounds of water. Considering the issues he has had with the weight cut, I would assume that he is slightly bigger than the average lightweight by a few pounds. This means the average lightweight cuts about 15-20 pounds of water, which lines up with the weight cut of the flyweights we talked about earlier.
It seems that the majority of fighters tend to cut about 15 to 20 pounds of water weight in order to make their weight limit. If their walk around weight is more than 20 pounds, then the fighter keeps a strict diet a few weeks before the fight in order to shave off as many pounds of body fat as possible. However, this amount depends entirely on how much weight the fighter gains in between fights.
I hope this gave you some insight into how much weight a fighter has to cut before hitting the scales. If you liked this post, consider checking out the Martial Arts History page, where I answer more common MMA questions such as the one covered here. Thanks for reading!