Is Paul Daley Costing Himself a Shot at the Welterweight Title?
Cutting weight has become a science in today's world of mixed martial arts. Fighters routinely walk around between 15 and 30 pounds above the weight limit for their respective divisions, only to cut all the weight in time for the pre-fight weigh-ins.
Current champions Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Brock Lesnar have all mastered the skill of dropping massive amounts of weight in a very short amount of time in order to come into their fights larger than almost any opponent they may face.
Paul Daley headed into UFC 108 with high expectations. He was coming off of a dominant win over Martin Kampmann at UFC 103. Originally he was set to fight Carlos Condit but after Condit pulled out of the fight, Dustin Hazelett was added as a substitution.
Many fans and pundits speculated that if Daley could beat Hazelett the same way he did against Kampmann that he would be on the fast track to a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. That fast track may have become derailed when Daley failed to make weight for the bout.
Daley tipped the scale on Friday at 172 pounds, one pound above the 171-pound limit for a non-title fight. Normally, a fighter would have an extra hour to try and lose the extra pound and make fight, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to allow him to try and lose the extra weight.
Officials from the NSAC said Daley "appeared wobbly" when taking the stage and scale for his weigh-in. They felt any further stress on his body to lose the extra pound would be too much of a health risk.
The contract for his fight with Hazelett was amended to change the weight to a catch-weight bout, and Daley would be fined 10 percent of his fight purse for failing to make the weight.
Now Daley must not only face an extremely dangerous fighter in Hazelett, but he must do so in a weakened physical state. Fighters usually can recover from the weight cut in time for their fights to be in sound physical health, but there are also several examples of fighters who were noticeably weaker do to pushing their bodies to far and not making weight.
Should Daley still pull off a win against Hazelett, he will have overcome more than a top contender. It would indeed put him in position to possibly face the winner of the Dan Hardy-GSP fight. However, one must question Daley and his training camp. How could he come into such an important fight over the weight limit and in a weakened state being so close to a title shot?
No one doubts Daley's abilities inside the octagon. He is at the top of the division when it comes to punching power and his overall strength. Both those attributes will be affected on Saturday night though.
He is no stranger to the fight game and in order to be taken seriously as a top contender, he needs to cover all his bases, including the most basic of making weight. It's a lesson that fellow welterweight fighter, Thiago Alves had to learn as well.
A loss to Hazelett will give Daley a built-in excuse having not made weight. Fans will know, however, that it was his own undoing that cost him the fight and a title shot. He would slip to the middle of the pack in the division and add several more fights into his schedule in order to make his way to the top of the division.
Win or lose, Daley needs to learn from the mistakes he made in his training camp that made him unable to make weight. Should he eventually earn a title shot, he won't have the luxury of missing weight by even a single pound. Daley talks a great game outside the cage. It's now time for him to train and fight as well as he talks.
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