If you were reading about weight classes and cutting weight, you might be wondering about this.
The weigh-ins themselves are pretty self-explanatory (fighters step on a scale,) but there is always one question – Why not have weigh-ins right before the start of event?
It’s a good question. I mean, why have someone weigh in at 170lb on Friday afternoon, only for them to hydrate back to 187 for Saturday night’s fight? With the delay between weigh-ins and fight time, it’s possible you could have someone that weighs 169 stepping into the cage to fight someone that weighs 187. Doesn’t that ruin the entire idea of weight classes?
I’ve heard a few different reasons for this; some are better than others, but they all have some truth to them.
Without further ado, here are some reasons weigh-ins take place the day before the event:
All MMA promotions are businesses, and the goal of a business is to make money. Having the weigh-ins the day before the fight brings in more money.
The weigh-ins actually become their own event. This means two days of events instead of one, so it provides more hype for the real event. Watching the weigh-ins for free might get people pumped up enough to order the PPV or buy tickets. Betting probably gets an influx of new money, too, as the general public gets a good idea of how the fighters are looking.
It also gives the media something to write about, which spreads the word even more, possibly yielding more PPV buys. Every little bit counts, including the logo-plastered backdrop seen in all the weigh-in photos.
Would the UFC give up this entire event to replace it with quick weigh-ins pre-fight, or something in the morning when most people are still asleep? I doubt it.
2. Fighter Safety
The argument here is that a fighter will cut weight no matter what, even if they have to weigh in right before the event and then fight dehydrated and woozy. This leaves them more susceptible to injury.
Professional athletes will try just about anything to get an advantage, because their livelihoods depend on it. So they are probably crazy enough to still cut weight. (Not all fighters cut as much weight as others, but they are the exception rather than the rule.)
Wrestling matches have weigh-ins the day of the match, and even at the high school level, you better believe those kids are cutting weight. So if a high school kid of average skill will cut weight, why wouldn’t a professional (e.g. someone who gets paid to win) do it?
3. Ensures the Bout
Having a 24 hour lead on the event is a good thing in case a fighter does not make weight. This gives the promotion time to react, either by giving the fighter another hour to sweat, docking his pay, or maybe even finding a replacement opponent.
What if the weigh-ins were right before the event, and a titleholder or challenger failed to make weight? The bout would then be pointless! It’s just too risky.
Having the weigh-ins the day before the event is convenient for everyone involved. The fighters weigh in, then they get some time to relax and prepare for their fight without distractions. The press can focus on one thing at a time, medicals can get checked out, etc.
Realistically speaking, when else would the fighters weigh in? When they walk up to the cage for cup/grease/gloves/mouthguard check? While they’re trying to warm up?
At least with the current timing, it gives equal weight cutting opportunity to everyone.
5. It is a common standard
If there are weight classes involved, the sport requires weigh-ins. “Day before” weigh-ins are pretty standard. Boxing and kickboxing events, as well as grappling tournaments, almost always have weigh-ins the day before the event.
That is what has been in use, and that’s what everyone seems to stick with. It’s kind of like the 10-point must system – it might not be ideal, but it’s the best thing we have right now.
Basically, the weigh ins are the day before the event and that’s the way it is. Weight cutting has simply become an integral part of the sport, and being the best at weight cutting is yet another valuable skill required for MMA excellence.