11 Worst UFC Weight Cuts (Most Dangerous)

Weight cutting is a common practice in MMA, where fighters attempt to lose a significant amount of weight in a short period to qualify for a lower weight class. 

While this strategy can provide a competitive advantage, it also poses serious health risks.

The dangers were tragically highlighted when ONE Championship fighter Yang Jian Bing died in 2015 due to complications related to his weight cut.

This incident led ONE Championship to ban traditional weight cutting and implement a hydration testing system to ensure fighter safety.

In the UFC, while no fighter has died as a result of weight cutting, there have been numerous instances where athletes have put their health in jeopardy, suffering from severe dehydration, organ failure, and other life-threatening conditions.

In this article, we look at the 11 most dangerous and worst weight cuts in UFC history, ranked starting with the worst.

Worst UFC Weight Cuts: Top 11

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov – UFC 209 (March 4, 2017)

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s weight cut for his scheduled fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 was one of the most alarming in UFC history. 

Walking around at approximately 190 lbs during fight camp, Nurmagomedov had to cut around 35 lbs to make the lightweight limit of 155 lbs. 

His weight-cut process typically involved losing 15 to 22 lbs during fight camp and shedding the remaining 13 to 20 lbs as water weight during fight week. 

However, this time, complications arose, and Khabib was rushed to the hospital in the early hours before the weigh-ins, suffering from severe dehydration, kidney pain, and memory problems

Doctors later revealed that he was close to death, and he spent five days in intensive care.

2. Darren Till – UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Till (May 27, 2018)

Darren Till faced a harrowing weight cut before his fight with Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night 130. Till, who normally walked around at 210 lbs, attempted to cut 40 lbs to make the welterweight limit. 

The process was so brutal that Till experienced temporary blindness while trying to shed the final pounds on a treadmill. He even resorted to colonic irrigation, but his body was so depleted of water that it clung to whatever was left.

Despite missing weight by 3.5 lbs, the fight proceeded at a catchweight, and Till secured a unanimous decision victory. However, the ordeal raised serious concerns about the safety of drastic weight cuts.

3. Renan Barao – UFC 177 (August 30, 2014)

Renan Barao’s weight cut for his rematch against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 177 ended in a hospital visit after he fainted and hit his head in a bathtub

The incident occurred as Barao was attempting to shed the final pounds to make the bantamweight limit. Barao claimed that he’d fainted as a result of standing up too fast.

In an interview, Joe Rogan asked him, “How can you be fine if you’re blacking out while making weight? That’s a very dangerous situation to find yourself in.”

The severe dehydration and resulting blackout forced Barao out of the title fight, underscoring the dangers of extreme weight cuts and the pressure fighters face to compete at lower weight classes.

4. Uriah Hall – UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi (January 14, 2018)

Uriah Hall experienced a severe health scare during his weight cut for a fight against Vitor Belfort. Hall collapsed while walking to the elevator and was rushed to the hospital, suffering from acute kidney failure. 

The incident was attributed to the stress and strain of cutting weight, compounded by a pre-existing digestive issue that made it difficult for him to properly nourish his body during the process. 

Hall said, “I was walking to the elevator. Boom, just like that I collapsed. I was in and out of it, I woke up, people were over me. I woke back up, I was in the elevator. I was holding onto my best friend. Apparently, I bit him.”

Hall later woke up in the hospital and was forced to pull out of the fight.

5. Julija Stoliarenko – UFC on ESPN 21 (March 20, 2021)

During the weigh-ins for her scheduled fight against Julia Avila, Stoliarenko collapsed twice on the scales, creating a frightening scene for all involved. 

Initially, she stumbled off the scales before falling backward, and despite being tended to for several minutes, she collapsed again after successfully making weight at 135.5 pounds​​.

Stoliarenko was subsequently stretchered out and her fight with Avila was canceled. However, Stoliarenko later clarified on Instagram that the problem was not her weight cut per se, but rather that she made weight too early. 

She explained that she was already on weight at 5 a.m., four hours before the weigh-ins started, and that being at the limit of dehydration for too long was the main issue that led to her collapse​​.

Despite the scary incident, Stoliarenko expressed her frustration as she felt ready to fight and was in good shape, but the athletic commission did not clear her for the fight due to safety concerns​​.

6. Max Holloway – UFC 226: Holloway vs. Ortega (July 7, 2018)

Max Holloway’s scheduled featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega at UFC 226 in Las Vegas was highly anticipated, but it ended in disappointment when Holloway was forced to withdraw from the fight. 

Days before the event, Holloway exhibited concerning symptoms, including slurred speech and confusion. Holloway’s team and UFC officials decided to pull him from the fight, citing “concussion-like symptoms” as the reason. 

The exact cause of these symptoms was unclear, but the situation raised questions about the potential impact of his weight-cutting practices on his health.

However, studies have shown that symptoms commonly reported while dehydrated are similar to those commonly reported after concussion.

This wasn’t the first time Holloway faced issues related to weight cutting. He was previously pulled from UFC 223 after being deemed medically unfit to fight.

7. Aspen Ladd – UFC Fight Night 155: de Randamie vs. Ladd (July 13, 2019)

Aspen Ladd’s weight cut for her main event fight against Germaine de Randamie at UFC Fight Night 155 was one of the most alarming incidents of recent times. 

During the weigh-ins, Ladd appeared severely depleted, visibly shaking, wincing, and unable to follow simple instructions as she struggled to stand on the scale due to buckling knees.

She barely made the bantamweight limit of 135 lbs, but her physical state raised serious concerns about her well-being.

The effects of the grueling weight cut were evident on fight night. Ladd was knocked out by de Randamie in just 16 seconds of the first round, one of the fastest knockouts in UFC women’s bantamweight history. 

In response to the incident, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) took the unusual step of suspending Ladd’s bantamweight license. 

The suspension was a clear message from the regulatory body about the importance of fighter safety and the need for responsible weight management.

8. Kelvin Gastelum – UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz (January 31, 2015)

Kelvin Gastelum’s weight cut for UFC 183 was not only challenging but also dangerous. Leading up to his fight against Tyron Woodley, Gastelum faced severe health issues that put his participation in jeopardy. 

Gastelum was hospitalized on the Friday before the fight due to a severe bout of vomiting and illness, which was attributed to his weight-cutting process.

Despite these setbacks, Gastelum was determined to compete. However, his health issues impacted his ability to make weight. 

At the official weigh-ins, he tipped the scales at 180 pounds, a full 9 pounds over the welterweight limit. As a result, he was fined 30% of his purse, which was then awarded to Woodley.

The ordeal took a toll on Gastelum’s performance in the octagon. He lost the fight via split decision, marking a significant setback in his career. 

Following this incident, UFC President Dana White announced that Gastelum would no longer be allowed to compete at welterweight due to his repeated issues with making weight.

9. Mizuto Hirota – UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami (September 22, 2017)

Mizuto Hirota’s weight cut for his fight at UFC Fight Night in Japan was so severe that he appeared disoriented and struggled to stand on his own during the weigh-ins. He also missed weight, weighing in at 150 lbs, 4 lbs over the featherweight non-title limit of 146 lbs.

Hirota was visibly weak and fell backward off the scale, with UFC employees having to catch him. He was then held up by a member of his team when walking off stage.

Despite the alarming signs, Hirota was initially cleared to fight, but the bout was eventually canceled due to the health risks associated with his drastic weight cut. 

This incident highlighted the need for stricter monitoring and regulations to ensure fighter safety during the weight-cutting process.

10. Yoel Romero – UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 (June 9, 2018)

Yoel Romero, known for being one of the biggest middleweights, consistently cut 30-40 lbs to make the 185 lbs limit.

At the official weigh-ins, Romero initially weighed in at 186 lbs, then missed the championship weight limit on his second attempt, coming in at 185.2 lbs.

The aftermath of the weigh-in was alarming. Video footage showed a visibly depleted Romero needing the assistance of his coaches to leave the weigh-in area, with them essentially carrying him backstage.

His struggle to walk and obvious discomfort raised concerns about the toll the weight cut had taken on his body. Despite the missed weight, the fight proceeded as a non-title bout, which Romero lost by split decision.

11. Jessica Eye – UFC on ESPN: Eye vs. Calvillo (June 13, 2020)

Jessica Eye’s weight cut for her main event fight against Cynthia Calvillo was one of the more concerning incidents in recent UFC history. Leading up to the fight, Eye struggled significantly to make the flyweight limit.

During the weigh-ins, she appeared visibly shaky and had trouble standing on the scale, indicating severe dehydration and the toll the weight cut had taken on her body. 

Despite her efforts, Eye missed weight, coming in at 126.25 pounds, a quarter pound over the non-title flyweight limit of 126 pounds.

Despite being given a second chance, Jessica said, “I’m done, I don’t think I can stand, guys. I’m sorry.” As a result, she was fined 25% of her purse.

The fight proceeded as a catchweight bout, with Calvillo winning by unanimous decision after five rounds.

The Bottom Line

The issue of extreme weight cutting in the UFC is a persistent and dangerous aspect of the sport. 

The 11 worst ufc weight cuts highlighted in this article underscore the severe health risks and potentially life-threatening consequences that fighters face in their pursuit to gain a competitive edge.

From temporary blindness and kidney failure to severe dehydration and hospitalization, the toll on the body can be catastrophic. 

These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the need for stricter regulations, better monitoring, and a shift in the culture surrounding weight cutting in MMA. 

Ensuring the safety and well-being of fighters must be a top priority to prevent such dangerous situations in the future.

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