Josh Emmett scored the biggest win of his career on Saturday when he knocked out Ricardo Lamas with a stunning one-punch, walk-off knockout at UFC on FOX 26, yet still the week in Winnipeg was bittersweet.
After accepting the fight against Lamas as a short-notice replacement for Jose Aldo, Emmett missed weight by 2.5 pounds at UFC on FOX 26’s weigh-ins, subsequently affixing an asterisk to a performance that was the kind of coming out party most prospects only dream of. Emmett reflected back his fight week experience Monday on The MMA Hour, admitting to feeling conflicted about how things played out. He said trouble first arose Thursday morning in the early hours before official weigh-ins, when he tipped the scales around three pounds over the featherweight limit.
“We kept working and working, and then at that point I just couldn’t sweat anymore,” Emmett explained on The MMA Hour. “I stopped sweating. My coaches saw that I was having a challenge with it, and it was their call. They were like, ‘There’s no way,’ because we re-checked my weight again and I lost like .3, .4 of a pound in 40 minutes.
“They’re like, ‘With 90 minutes left, we know you cannot lose this weight. There’s no point in draining yourself even more just to be in a worse position, and you’ll still be in the same position, you’re not going to make the weight.’ So I listened to them. I trust in them so much and I listened to them, but I was so disappointed. It was the first time in my life since I was a little kid, wrestling, all of my fights, I’ve never missed weight. Through college, everything. And it almost felt like a loss to me.
“It was just such a bad feeling,” Emmett continued. “They said, ‘Keep your head up. Let’s just go weigh in and then we’ll worry about the fight. That’s why we’re here.’ And Lamas still took the fight, so I appreciate him. And like I said before, I apologize to the UFC and the fans and him, of course. It’ll never happen again. I just will not take a fight under four weeks. But they took 30 percent of my purse, so that’s more than the 20 percent that’s usual, and I was excluded from the $50,000 bonus, so I lost a lot of money on this fight. So I think I paid for it.”
Emmett was ultimately made to forfeit 30 percent of his show purse to Lamas as a result of the botched weight cut — and even that was a close call.
Fighters generally lose 20 percent of their show purse when they miss weight, but Emmett said Lamas’ managers requested the additional 10 percent of his purse or the bout would’ve been in serious danger.
“They didn’t want the fight after I didn’t make the weight,” Emmett said. “There was no way that they were going to take the fight, and then somehow that got brought up, ‘Well, we want 30 percent.’”
In the end, the fight proceeded as planned and Emmett scored one of the year’s biggest upsets, knocking out Lamas inside the first round at UFC on FOX 26. Lamas entered the weekend ranked as the No. 3 featherweight in the world on the UFC’s official, media-generated 145-pound rankings, while Emmett was nowhere to be found on the featherweight top 15. That will likely change soon.
Still, Emmett has received his fair share of criticism for the situation because of his issues at weigh-ins. And while Emmett understands exactly where that criticism is coming from, and has apologized several times for his actions, he believes some of the malice being directed at him is misplaced.
“Definitely, I hear it,” Emmett said. “And for a lot of those people, the experts and the naysayers and haters, they really don’t know anything about fighting. I do not think it’s that big of an advantage. I was drained for my match. Maybe I would not have even been able to fight if kept trying. I still wouldn’t have made the weight, and that point the doctor that travels with the UFC even said that it was unsafe to continue to go. I don’t think it matters. You see that time and time again where people miss weight by even more weight and they lose the fight as well.
“So it’s kind of a toss up. I’m always actually hoping my opponent misses weight so I can get back 20 percent. Two pounds is not going to win or lose a fight. He’s been training since September for one of the best fighters in the world, a legend in the sport, and I trained two weeks for the fight before I went out there and started cutting weight. I was sick for two weeks and on antibiotics, just because I wanted to kick it. I just had a cold that’s been going around, and I’m just now getting over it still.”
The messy situation hit his wallet, too.
Emmett estimated that, in total, he lost around $62,000 because of his failure to make weight at UFC on FOX 26, with $50,000 of that money coming from his inability to win a ‘Fight Night’ bonus — a bonus he most assuredly would’ve won had he tipped the scales at 145 pounds. But ultimately, the most important thing for Emmett was to deliver the kind of performance he always knew he was capable of, and as the Team Alpha Male product looks forward to a future that he hopes features a potential No. 1 contender match against Brian Ortega, he is excited by his UFC future.
“At this point, the win was more important than the money,” Emmett said. “I do it for the money because I want financial freedom, I want to be able to support my wife and family, and yeah, it was hard. But it was disappointing with the weight cut, so I take full credit for that, and like I said, it will not happen again.
“But the win was more important at this point, and just to go out there and all the exposure that I got. I knew I could win the fight. My teammates, my coaches, family and friends were the only ones counting me in. Everyone else was counting me out because they don’t know me, so I knew I was going to go in there and shock the world. And I did that, so this will pay dividends over $61,000 or $62,000 in the long run.”