The controversy surrounding UFC 210’s early morning weigh-ins is not yet over.
Anthony Johnson intends to file an official complaint with the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) within “the next 24 hours” over the actions of UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier last Friday and the handling of the weigh-in proceedings by the commission. Johnson’s lawyer, Craig Zimmerman, confirmed the news with MMA Fighting on Monday following an initial ESPN report.
“Anthony’s opponent came in overweight,” Zimmerman told MMA Fighting. “I don’t think anyone disputes that. He weighs in, he’s 206.2 roughly, and somehow a minute or two later, he goes backstage, he comes back out, they try it again, he leans on a towel and miraculously he makes weight. I’m a licensed promoter and attorney. I’m licensed in California. The weigh-in is one of the most sacred things in combative sports. Do both fighters meet the weight requirement? Particularly with a title fight, there’s not even a pound allowance. And if you miss weight, there’s a fine.
“I think we need three things. One, we need acknowledgment that the weigh-in was handled incorrectly. Two, we need DC to be fined the 20 percent he should’ve been fined for coming in overweight. And three, we need New York to clean up the weigh-in procedures so this doesn’t happen again.”
The controversy first arose on the morning of April 7, when Cormier weighed in at 206.2 pounds — 1.2 pounds over the light heavyweight limit — at the official UFC 210 weigh-ins ahead of his championship rematch against Johnson. Under most major MMA commissions, such as those in Nevada or California, fighters are only permitted one chance to weigh-in, meaning Cormier would have officially registered as overweight in those jurisdictions and been forced to forfeit his UFC light heavyweight title along with 20 percent of his fight purse.
However, in New York — which only legalized MMA last year and has dealt with numerous commission issues since — fighters competing in championship contests are still allotted two extra hours to make their weight.
Cormier then weighed in a second time, less than three minutes after his first attempt, and successfully hit the 205-pound limit while noticeably touching the privacy towel with both hands.
Zimmerman said he plans to address both issues with the NYSAC.
“Common sense applies,” Zimmerman said. “Even if he’s allowed to jump back on the scale, he jumped on a minute or two later, and somehow he miraculously loses 1.2 pounds? I’d like to know what he did. How many fights have you ever seen where a guy is leaning on the towel?
“This is a UFC title fight. It’s higher profile. There are a lot more people watching them than if this was just a regional show. If there are a lot more commissioners and people there to watch this; it’s not as if one person missed it. There are a lot of people who missed it. Someone should’ve stepped up. You just can’t turn your head. I’m not accusing the New York commission of anything, but isn’t it the job of any commission to ensure all the rules are being followed? And if someone misses it, they’re not supposed to be worried about, at least at the time, why it was missed. They need to correct the problem.
“No one said, ‘hey, ‘hey, ‘hey, he’s leaning on the towel. Hey, he came in overweight.’ No one cared, and I don’t understand how that happens,” Zimmerman continued. “If it happens out here in California, you know the commission would be all over it. If it happens in Nevada, they would’ve been all over it. Almost every state, but somehow New York just let this go.”
In the aftermath of the incident, NYSAC executive director Tony Giardina told reporters that he did not see Cormier holding the towel, despite insistence from several on-site reporters that video evidence proved otherwise.
Cormier went on to defeat Johnson via second-round rear-naked choke at UFC 210, after which Johnson announced his unexpected retirement from MMA. However, “Rumble” and his team are not willing to overlook the chaos that took place in Buffalo.
“There’s video tape of it,” Zimmerman said. “The video was out right after it happened. Admit the mistake. It’s worse because they said, ‘oh, we didn’t see it.’ It happened. There’s no denying it happened. Fix your mistake right there, right then. People are talking about instant replay during the fight; what about instant replay during the weigh-in then? Looks like he’s leaning on a towel to me.”