4 UFC Fighters Who Were Forced To Change Weight Class

For UFC fighters, consistently missing weight can lead to being forced to move up a weight class. This usually happens after a fighter misses weight a third time.

In this article, we look at every UFC fighter forced to change weight class and the reasons why.

4 UFC Fighters Who Were Forced To Change Weight Class

1. Kelvin Gastelum (Welterweight to Middleweight)

Despite his potential and success in the welterweight division, Gastelum faced difficulties with weight management, affecting his performance and opportunities.

Gastelum missed weight for welterweight bouts on three occasions. His final weight miss at 170 lbs was for a scheduled bout against Donald Cerrone at UFC 205, where he missed by 10 lbs. The fight was subsequently canceled.

Following his repeated failures to make the welterweight limit, the UFC mandated Gastelum to move up to the middleweight division.

In the middleweight division, Gastelum found new life, competing for the interim middleweight title against Israel Adesanya in one of the best fights of 2019.

His move up in weight demonstrated the potential benefits of competing in a more natural weight class.

He spent the next 7 years in the middleweight division but returned to the welterweight division in December 2023.

The UFC permitted his move back, likely considering his veteran status and the challenges he faced in the middleweight division against much larger and taller opponents.

2. John Lineker (Flyweight to Bantamweight)

Lineker missed weight four times in eight flyweight bouts, a record that raised concerns about his health and professionalism. 

His fourth weight miss came before his fight against Ian McCall at UFC 183, where he weighed in at 130 lbs, 4 lbs over the flyweight non-title fight limit.

The repeated failures to make weight forced the UFC’s hand, leading to the organization mandating Lineker to move up to the bantamweight division. 

The decision was made to ensure his health and to maintain the integrity of the competition within the flyweight division.

3. Anthony Johnson (Welterweight to Middleweight)

Initially competing in the welterweight division, Johnson faced severe difficulties with weight cuts, missing weight on three occasions.

He weighed in at 177 lbs for a welterweight bout against Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104, which was 6 lbs over the non-title fight welterweight limit.

His struggles with making weight didn’t end there. He missed in the middleweight division against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142, coming in at 197 lbs, 11 lbs over the limit.

Johnson’s biggest issue was he was cutting too much weight. His most insane transformation was 2 months before his UFC FN:24 bout against Dan Hardy in March 2011.

He managed to cut 59 lbs in just 2 months, going from 230 lbs to a weigh-in weight of 171 lbs.

After being released and later re-signed by the UFC, Johnson moved up to the light heavyweight division, where he found tremendous success.

His move was partly due to the weight-cutting issues and partly to compete at a weight that was more natural for his physique.

At light heavyweight, Johnson became one of the most feared strikers in the division, challenging for the title twice. 

His career post-weight issues underscored the importance of finding the right weight class for optimal performance, demonstrating how competing at a more natural weight can lead to improved health and better outcomes in the ring.

4. Michel Prazeres (Lightweight to Welterweight)

Michel Prazeres missed weight for three of his UFC lightweight bouts. His final miss was before his fight against Desmond Green at Desmond Green UFC Fight Night 125 in 2018.

He weighed in at 161 lbs, forcing the fight into a catchweight bout. The Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission CABMMA forced Michel to compete at welterweight in the future, with the UFC agreeing.

Following the decision, Prazeres’ next fight was scheduled 3 months later against Zak Cummings in the welterweight division.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the challenges and consequences of weight management in the UFC underscore the delicate balance between competitive edge and health risks associated with weight cutting. 

The cases of Kelvin Gastelum, John Lineker, Anthony Johnson, and Michel Prazeres highlight the UFC’s commitment to fighter safety and the integrity of weight classes. 

These examples emphasize the importance of responsible weight management and the potential career rejuvenation that can come from competing in a more natural weight class. 

As the sport continues to evolve, so too will the approaches to weight cutting, with an ever-increasing focus on health, safety, and fair play.

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