Chas Skelly had a lot to say following the last minute cancellation of his fight against Jamall Emmers at UFC Vegas 19: Blaydes vs. Lewis. And perhaps the most important subject the featherweight brought up was that of weight cutting.
The Sanford MMA fighter was already in the Octagon when UFC announcer Joe Martinez made it official that Skelly vs. Emmers had been called off. That announcement coming just shortly after viewers had been informed that Emmers could not make the walk to the cage after suffering back spasms in the backstage area.
In the past, the UFC has not been shy about re-booking fights called off during fight week as soon as possible. During his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Michael Bisping, however, Skelly let the UFC know he wasn’t interested in that type of scheduling.
“It’s tough,” Skelly said. “Right now I’m just thinking what the plan is.
“With me, I’m a big 145-pounder. It’s not easy for me to make weight and I don’t want to turn around and do the weight cut all over again next week because I don’t want to put my body in that yo-yo. I’m doing everything right now and I’m bringing my weight down the right way. I don’t know…”
While Skelly’s words may have fallen on deaf ears with Bisping, who immediately suggested that the UFC re-book the bout “in a few weeks,” hopefully the UFC was listening just a little more closely.
As aforementioned, UFC is often quick to re-book fights whenever possible. The thinking behind the move might be that, by doing so, the promotion can avoid paying fighters their “show” money for the scratched fight, and appease their desire to compete with a quick turnaround. But, while that plan might look good on paper, it has the potential to put many fighters, like Skelly, in a bad spot.
There’s a lot of evidence out there to suggest that weight cutting isn’t just unhealthy, but can be very dangerous. A fighter going through two significant cuts in short order is very likely putting a lot of strain on their body. In some cases, if the fight is scratched and re-booked before the weigh-in takes place, fighters can potentially control their weight and keep it low to ease the stress of a second cut. But for someone in Skelly’s position, having already fully rehydrated after the weigh in, it’s just not possible. And from the sound of things, it seems likely that he was already significantly heavier than the 145 pounds he weighed in at on Friday morning.
The UFC has made it a mantra that their promotion goes above and beyond with safety. If they want to truly live up to that statement, though, they need to take a good look at how they re-book cancellations. With a greater eye for the health of their talent and not just their bottom line.
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