UFC fighters who were WAY too big for their weight class

There are many requirements to successfully complete a mixed martial arts boot camp. Having the right trainers, practicing the right nutrition, and establishing the optimal balance between rest and training are all extremely important. Successfully losing weight safely and healthily is also an important factor when preparing for mixed martial arts.

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Throughout the history of Mom, there have been many fighters who have struggled to gain weight simply because they are too big for the division they wish to compete in. This caused fighters to lose weight and even move to a new weight class when it became an issue. Practicing proper weight reduction techniques and competing in the optimal weight class is essential for success in mixed martial arts

ten Sean Sherk


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Despite being only 5ft 6in tall, Sean Sherk was huge when he competed in the lightweight division. The former UFC lightweight champion competed at both welterweight and lightweight but achieved most of his success at age 155.

Sherk would reduce 20 pounds to meet the light weight requirement which equated to approximately 12.9% of his body mass. Had Sherk been slightly taller, a permanent move to 170 would have been optimal.

9 Cynthia Calvillo


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It’s hard to determine if Cynthia Calvillo’s weight loss issues are due to her size or her discipline. Nonetheless, the No. 10-ranked female flyweight has lost weight three times during her UFC career and generally looks exhausted at 125.

A move up to bantamweight could prove beneficial for the gifted competitor whose weight issues have limited her growth as a viable competitor in women’s MMA.


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8 Johnny Hendrick


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Johny Hendricks didn’t look particularly big for a 170-pound fighter. However, the former UFC welterweight champion failed to make weight twice at welterweight. Hendricks was known for cutting between 25 and 30 pounds during a training camp that led to some grueling cuts.

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Hendricks eventually moved up to 185 and took the win in his middleweight debut. However, he missed weight in his second appearance at middleweight and suffered two straight losses. His UFC contract was not renewed.

seven Kevin Lee


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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Lee used to cut about 20 pounds during fight week to gain weight. The former top-ranked lightweight was a whopping 155-pound fighter but enjoyed many successful years. Eventually Lee could no longer deny how damaging the drastic weight cuts were to his body and he moved up to welterweight.

Unfortunately, Lee suffered two losses at welterweight and was released by the UFC. He now plays at 165 at Eagle FC. Hopefully Lee has finally found the ideal weight to compete at his best.

6 Thiago Santos


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© Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at Thiago Santos now, is it remarkable that the Brazilian contender has ever competed at middleweight. Despite a 10-5 career at 185, Santos was a towering middleweight and sported significant muscle on his body.

In 2018, he moved up to light heavyweight and compiled a 4-3 record, including a shot at the light heavyweight title. Santos is still one of the best light heavyweights in the world and continues to compete.


5 Kelvin’s Gastelum


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Kelvin Gastelum competed at welterweight for several years but missed weight twice. The California native was a powerful, big-boned welterweight and cut between 30 and 50 pounds to make 170.

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Gastelum did not maintain a strict diet outside of a reserved fight, which led to very difficult weight cuts. After struggling to continually make 170, he eventually moved up to 185 where his power and versatility allowed him to compete with bigger and longer opponents.

4 Yoel Romero


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Stephen R. Sylvania – USA TODAY Sports

Yoel Romero’s weight issues cost him the interim UFC middleweight championship in 2018. The top-ranked former UFC middleweight missed 185 for two separate title fights and was noticeably built throughout his time in the UFC.

The Cuban native’s total weight is said to be between 210 and 220 pounds, which would require a 25 to 30 pound weight reduction during training camp. Romero never moved up to light heavyweight in the UFC, but did after joining the Bellator roster in 2021.

3 Michael Chiesa


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Any fighter who needs to lose 45-50 pounds to gain weight is putting their health and wellbeing on the line. Michael Chiesa has spent most of his fighting career at age 155 and walked around 190 pounds.

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After suffering a scary weight cut and missing weight at UFC 266, The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner finally gave in and moved up to welterweight. Since then he has compiled a 4-2 record at welterweight and is now focused on a thorough training camp rather than a brutal weight cut.


2 Paolo Costa


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Stephen R. Sylvania – USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the most impressive physiques in mixed martial arts, it’s hard not to think of Paulo Costa. The top-ranked middleweight is one of the most ripped, massive and powerful fighters on the UFC roster.

Costa has a history of cutting between 40 and 50 pounds before the fight, making him one of the biggest currently active middleweights on the UFC roster. However, his massive weight cuts finally caught up with him in 2021, which forced him to fight at light heavyweight after entering an overweight fight week. Costa has reportedly been banned from competing at middleweight in the future and will be forced to move up.


1 Anthony Johnson


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Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Fact: Anthony Johnson used to compete at welterweight. How he made 170 is truly a mystery, but the former UFC fighter missed weight twice. He eventually moved up to middleweight in 2021, but missed 185 by 12 pounds in his debut in the division.

Johnson would return to the UFC as a light heavyweight where he had the most successful run of his MMA career and challenged twice for the UFC light heavyweight title.


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