Kelvin Gastelum and 5 Big Fighters for Their Division

Bradley Popkin@@bradpopkinmmaCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2015

Kelvin Gastelum and 5 Big Fighters for Their Division

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    The UFC asks its fighters to perform admirably but also make weight. For some Octagon combatants, weigh-ins are their worst nightmare. As recently as UFC 183, a couple of fighters missed the mark by a wide margin.

    Top 10 welterweight contender Kelvin Gastelum was nine pounds shy of the 171-pound limit. Meanwhile, No. 7-ranked flyweight John Lineker was five pounds over the 126-pound threshold. 

    Both Gastelum and Lineker were fined—though Gastelum was refunded by his co-main event cohort Tyron Woodleyand banished from their respective divisions by UFC President Dana White

    They aren't the only perpetrators. Several other fighters, including former champions, have faced criticism in the wake of dieting mishaps.

    Read on to find out which five fighters take weight cutting to the extreme. However, before we introduce those men, let's mention a few fighters who diet just a little bit better.

    We rated fighters in terms of difficulty cutting weight and physique. Rank does not matter. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Johny Hendricks 

    A former welterweight champion, the 31-year-old Hendricks doesn't exactly make cutting weight easy on himself. He typically lets his weight balloon upwards of 200 pounds outside of fight camps. 

    Bigg Rigg, like a lot of professional fighters, works with esteemed dietitian Mike Dolce. Dolce feels that if Hendricks watched what he puts in his body year-round, then he would still be a champion.

    Hendricks has put in a total of 90 minutes of Octagon time over his last four fights. The fast-food aficionado could make his fights less taxing and improve his cardio if he learned to cut out the double cheeseburgers.  

    Thiago Alves 

    Like Hendricks, Alves is a stocky 170-pounder who also works with the diet guru Dolce. He also walks around near 200 pounds between fights.

    However, the difference between Alves and Hendricks is body fat.

    The 31-year-old former welterweight title challenger is a lean and mean fighting machine. However, the Brazilian wasn't always fit.

    He once tested positive for banned diuretics in 2006 and tipped the scale a few pounds over the welterweight limit on multiple occasions.  

    Alves most recently picked up a huge, second-round TKO victory over Jordan Mein at UFC 183. The muay thai master also holds notable victories over UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck.

    The American Top Team standout credits Dolce, who he began working with shortly after his failed attempt at dethroning Georges St-Pierre, for changing his eating habits. 

    Benson Henderson 

    Bendo has long been one of the biggest lightweights in mixed martial arts.

    Henderson, while he's still in fight shape, is heading north of the 155-pound border to take on Brandon "Rukus" Thatch in a welterweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Broomfield on Saturday.

    The former lightweight champion first stepped into the Octagon at UFC 129 in April 2011 and always knew this day would come. While he hasn't missed weight once in 15 Octagon appearances, Smooth has admitted, per MMAJunkie's Steven Marrocco, that making weight is "a little too much."

    Henderson used to eat Taco Bell during his collegiate wrestling career at Dana College. Though he's careful not to indulge on calorie-heavy entrees and desserts anymore, it's getting more difficult as he gets into his 30s.

    Henderson may be shredded, but one could see the struggles by looking at his emaciated sculpture on weigh-in day.

    Since the fighter from the MMA Lab arrived on the Octagon scene, he has been one of the most consistent lightweights, recording nine Octagon victories. Henderson has dominated the likes of Nate Diaz and Jim Miller. He also defeated perennial tough guy Frankie Edgar twice.

    As he sees other promising lightweights begin to populate the Top Five, now may be the time for Smooth to finally make the jump up to welterweight permanently. 

5. Kelvin Gastelum

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    There won't be too many weigh-in fiascos like the one that took place at UFC 183 anytime soon.

    Gastelum tipped the scales on the heavy side prior to his co-main event slot with Woodley. It wasn't his first failed weight cut.

    The Arizona-based fighter also missed the 171-pound mark before his fight with Nico Musoke in June. He has also had trouble making weight on other occasions.

    Gastelum will now look to establish a permanent residence in the middleweight division sometime this year after a less-than-inspiring performance against Woodley. His showing against The Chosen One may have had something to do with the Mexican's battle with an illness earlier during fight week. 

    The 23-year-old was in the midst of an 11-0 undefeated run and would have closed in on a title shot had he beaten Woodley. Gastelum didn't do himself any favors with the botched weight cut.

4. Renan Barao

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    Barao and his Nova Uniao team are no strangers to weight cuts gone awry.

    The former bantamweight champion fainted prior to his UFC 177 title rematch with current 135-pound titleholder T.J. Dillashaw. His featherweight champion teammate Jose Aldo also had a disastrous time hitting the 146-pound barrier for his first Octagon title defense against Mark Hominick at UFC 129.

    Before the loss of his title, the soon-to-be 28-year-old was unstoppable. Barao was adept at outclassing his opponents, like Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald, on the feet.

    If it wasn't for a December 2007 bout with Claudemir Souza, Barao would have won 31 fights consecutively. 

    Barao's head coach Andre Pederneiras has said, per Sherdog's Marcelo Alonso, that the former champion "suffers the most" out of all the fighters in his stable. Pederneiras has a gym-wide rule where no fighter is allowed to gain more than 26 pounds over his division limit. 

    Three months after the events of UFC 177, Barao made a successful return at UFC Fight Night: Barueri against Canadian Mitch Gagnon, winning via a third-round arm-triangle choke. 

    While his striking prowess is evident, Barao has never been the quickest bantamweight and was badly outstruck by the Team Alpha Male star Dillashaw at UFC 173. He also let the then-No. 15-ranked Gagnon hang around for 12 minutes during their December tussle.

    Barao will not be leaving the thin bantamweight division anytime soon with his teammate Aldo ruling the featherweight class. He has a chance to regain his title from Dillashaw at UFC 186 in April.

3. John Lineker

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    Old habits sure die hard. After three flunked attempts to make weight in his UFC career, Lineker still hadn't learned.

    The heavy-handed Brazilian, aptly nicknamed Hands of Stone, weighed in four pounds over the 126-pound flyweight limit for his long-awaited battle with Ian McCall. He also missed weight twice in 2013 and once in 2012. 

    The Paranagua native was a promising young talent talent in the flyweight division, racking up five knockout wins in a 14-month span. Of course, that was before White's ultimatum. 

    According to Lineker's manager Alex Davis, per MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz, "he used to weigh 147 pounds two weeks before the fight."

    The 25-year-old American Top Team fighter had a short stint working with the award-winning dietitian Dolce prior to his October 2013 meeting with Phil Harris. However, Lineker decided to forgo The Dolce Diet, preferring instead to work with Brazilian doctor Marco Aranha ahead of his February foray with Ali Bagautinov.

    Lineker was on the cusp of securing a long-awaited title shot with a victory over McCall, but his repeated offenses negated any and all momentum. In a flyweight division beckoning for new blood, he could have been the next fighter to challenge reigning champ Demetrious Johnson in 2015.

    Though Davis has dispelled any notion that Hands of Stone would move up to bantamweight, it's a foregone conclusion now. Lineker has also welcomed the change of scenery with open arms.  

2. Yoel Romero

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    Lineker's ATT teammate, the 37-year-old Romero, gives actor Terry Crews a run for his money.

    Romero, who used to compete at 205-pounds, made the drop to middleweight at the start of his UFC career and has been undefeated ever since. Like the other fighters on this list, he may shed up to 30 pounds in a given fight camp.

    He also puts himself through an "amazing cardio workout", per, and eats as healthy as possible. Both are factors that should come into play leading up to weigh-ins.

    The Soldier of God is a behemoth-sized middleweight who boasts a tenacious Olympic wrestling background. However, his hands have been on full display. 

    Romero is 5-0 in the Octagon with four knockout victories. He most recently picked up a win over former Strikeforce title challenger Tim Kennedy in his last outing at UFC 178.

    The Cuban will face an equally talented grappler, renowned Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Ronaldo Souza, at UFC on Fox 15 in April. 

    There are plenty of humongous 185-pounders, such as Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort, who both competed at light heavyweight recently in their MMA careers. Romero trumps them all.

    His sheer muscle mass is astounding, not to mention his agility. His flying knee knockout of Clifford Starks in his UFC debut and his January 2014 beatdown of Derek Brunson illustrate Romero's Octagon versatility.

    Romero is scary, but this next Cuban is like lightning trapped in a bottle.  

1. Hector Lombard

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    "Lightning" had his spark put out following a positive drug test in the wake of his UFC 182 victory over Josh Burkman. The UFC subsequently pulled Lombard from his welterweight encounter with the No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald at UFC 186. 

    The 37-year-old had his unanimous-decision victory over Burkman overturned to a no-contest as well. Lombard struggles to make the 171-pound limit, though he has used the tactics of Dolce in the past to make the welterweight transition easier.

    Lightning previously fought as as a UFC middleweight three times.

    Lombard, who had never tested positive before and never missed weight, saw any momentum he was gathering on his three-fight win streak come to a screeching halt. Still, the fact remains that the Cuban is one of the most dangerous fighters at 170 pounds.

    The former Bellator middleweight champion is capable of ragdolling foes using his world-class judo or flooring opponents with his blistering one-punch knockout power. Lombard's Octagon record stands at 3-2 (1).

    Lombard is as well-built as a fighter could be and is every bit as intimidating as his demeanor would tell you. He has also fought at light heavyweight earlier in his professional career.