A noticeable absentee from yesterday’s UFC 117 open workout was welterweight fighter Thiago Alves. Word quickly circulated that Alves had pulled out of the workout as he’s currently battling to get down to 171lbs in time for Friday’s weigh-ins.
Alves opponent Jon Fitch did make an appearance however, and though he was not happy to hear of the fighter’s weight issue, he tried to put on a brave face.
“I just found out a little bit ago that he’s struggling with some weight right now,” Fitch told MMAfighting’s Ariel Helwani. “It’s laughable. He’s still got plenty of time so I’m not worried, but I mean with everything that’s happened around this fight I can’t get any more stressed out about it. It is what it is and I have faith he’s going to make weight.”
It’s fair to say Fitch wasn’t exactly surprised to hear the news however.
“We knew this was a possible situation. He’s had issues in the past making weight and he’s had a long layoff, so all those factors put together, we knew there was a possibility he was going to be overweight for this fight.”
Alves certainly has had a long layoff. The rematch between the two was originally set to go down at UFC 111 in March, but during the week leading up to the fight Alves was forced to pull out after a brain abnormality was discovered during a routine scan. Thankfully Alves has since had a minor operation to fix the problem and he’s not returned to full fitness, but it’s now been 13 months since he last fought.
As Fitch points out Alves has also had weight issues in the past. In his bout with Matt Hughes at UFC 85 in 2008 for instance he came in three pounds over the limit. Unsurprisingly Fitch is not keen to be involved in a similar situation here.
“I’m not looking for a scenario like Matt Hughes when he had  pounds, that’s pretty ridiculous. A pound, you know, that’s fairly forgivable, but if he can’t make the weight at weigh-ins on Friday, I mean I would still like him to make the weight before the fight sometime. So if he doesn’t make it four ‘O clock on Friday – make it at seven or eight, or nine of midnight. Whatever, just make weight.”
Alves weight issue raises the question of whether the fighter should even be fighting at 170lbs. As it stands the UFC doesn’t force fighters to compete in a particular weight-class, but Fitch feels that a more substantial penalty for those who can’t make weight would help.
“If you have this issues with not making weight, I dunno, they need to figure out something more than the 20% penalty cos it doesn’t seem that’s motivation enough for people. It seems like it keeps happening, and it’s one thing that, you know, we’re a professional sport. You have a job to do – that’s part of the job is making weight.”
Like Fitch I feel something more should be done to discourage fighters from continually failing to make weight. Missing the limit once is forgivable, but doing so on multiple occasions is not and should be punished accordingly. At the very least repeat offenders should have to incur a more significant wage cut.
Watch Fitch’s full interview below.