They can put a man on the moon, but somehow they can't put a scale beside an Octagon.
At this point in time, the UFC simply has no excuse for not having unofficial prefight weigh-ins immediately prior to the actual fight, and there are very good reasons why they should have one.
Confusion over weight-related issues runs rampant in MMA.
The latest idea running around is that Georges St-Pierre is an average sized welterweight while Anderson Silva is a 230-pound monster who uses dark arts to magically make weight before entering the cage the approximate size of Cheick Kongo.
Before this latest debate, weight confusion has surrounded the likes of Thiago Alves, Anthony Johnson and other notorious weight cutters. During the UFC 100 fight between St-Pierre and Alves, Mike Goldberg speculated on Alves' weight, ridiculously claiming that Alves weighed "probably around 208."
This kind of widespread confusion is entirely fixable if the UFC would do one simple thing.
Instead, MMA writers like myself spend countless hours talking and writing about weight cutting, rehydration, "fighting weight" vs. "walking weight" and other related subjects.
Even if something is written on the subject of weight cutting, or a fighter's actual fighting weight, it's subject to criticism and doubt because in the end it's all hearsay and anecdotal evidence.
Should The UFC have Unofficial cageside weigh-ins?
As much as I like to act like some sort of insider by seeming well-informed in regards to such weight-related issues, a writer's time could be spent on more interesting endeavors.
Prefight Weigh-ins In Boxing
The results of prefight weigh-ins have been both interesting and informative in the sport of boxing, most notably in the recent fights of Manny Pacquiao.
In the lead-up to Pacquaio's fight with Oscar De La Hoya, most people assumed that De La Hoya would be the much larger fighter. The official weigh-ins seemed to confirm this, when Pacquiao weighed in well below the 147-pound limit, weighing only 142 pounds. De La Hoya weighed in at 145 pounds, and most people thought that he might gain an additional 10 pounds by fight time.
Instead, a much different picture emerged when De La Hoya entered the ring at 147 pounds, compared to Pacquiao's 148.5 pounds. De La Hoya was of course still the taller fighter, but the bigger fighter he was not.
In contrast to that example where dehydration made only a small difference, is the example of Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito.
While the fight was contested at the 154-pound limit, Margarito had ballooned up to 165 pounds by fight time. Pacquiao was at 148.
I'll be the first person to say that there are distinct advantages to being the smaller, lighter, quicker fighter, but can we really say that those weigh-in results aren't worth having, or aren't worth reporting?
I can't imagine that there wouldn't be similar cases in the sport of MMA.
When BJ Penn is fighting welterweights like Jon Fitch and St-Pierre, I'd like to know exactly how much smaller Penn is, especially in the case of someone like Fitch, who reportedly lost a significant amount of solid mass since changing his diet.
I'd like to know how much bigger Gray Maynard is than Frank Edgar.
I think the world would like to know the true weight difference between St-Pierre and Anderson Silva should that fight eventually materialize.
And if Silva has to fight Yushin Okami first, there should be a scale there as well.
So why isn't it happening?
Maybe the UFC just thinks it's some unnecessary hassle, but maybe there's more to it.
There are certain promotional benefits to not having these unofficial weigh-ins.
If prefight weigh-ins aren't done, fighters like Urijah Faber can always excuse a loss as a result of size and drop to their "most competitive division."
And people can keep saying St-Pierre is too small for Anderson Silva.
Is It a Sport Or a Spectacle?
In my mind, it all comes down to whether the UFC wants to act more like a sport, or a spectacle.
In a spectacle, it's okay that a magician never reveals his tricks, or that a WWE wrestler really isn't "from Parts Unknown, standing 8 feet tall, weighing in at 700 pounds."
In sport, things are different. NASCAR fans want to know the chemical breakdown of fuel, engine design, track specifics and weather conditions involved in the race. In tennis, the speed, spin and height of a serve is critical information. Football fans pay special attention to NFL Combine results.
MMA should be no different.
In this case, we're not asking the UFC to publish chemical breakdowns, incorporate fancy vector-measuring equipment, or run a promotion-wide combine.
We're asking for a scale beside an eight-sided cage.
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