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CSAC won’t license Renan Barao at bantamweight for Aljamain Sterling fight at UFC 214

Renan Barao (GC) Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) will not license Renan Barao at 135 pounds, executive officer Andy Foster confirmed to MMA Fighting on Wednesday.

Barao was announced as fighting Aljamain Sterling in a bantamweight bout at UFC 214 on July 29 in Anaheim, Calif., last month. But, citing its new weight-cutting rules, CSAC will not let the fight go on at that weight class, Foster said. Sterling wrote about the situation Wednesday on Instagram.

FloCombat was the first to report Wednesday.

Barao, the former UFC bantamweight champion, got a chance to regain his title against T.J. Dillashaw in August 2014 at UFC 177. But the Brazilian fighter became ill while cutting weight the day before the bout, slipped and hit his head in a bathtub. He had to be taken to the hospital and was unable to make the fight.

That incident happened in Sacramento, Calif., on CSAC’s watch. And Barao has been something of a poster boy for weight-cutting dangers ever since. Last month, CSAC approved a 10-point weight-cutting plan and the commission has been aggressive in combatting severe dehydration to make weight as a major problem in MMA.

“The last time Mr. Barao was over here in California, he didn’t make it to the fight,” Foster said. “I think out of an abundance of safety, we’ve focused on weight cutting, focused on addressing severe dehydration to make weight. And the last time Mr. Barao was here he didn’t make it to the fight. I talked to my doctors and we feel like this is the appropriate and safe thing to do.”

Foster said Barao vs. Sterling will likely be a catchweight of 140 pounds, but he has not gotten an official word yet from the UFC. A request for comment sent to UFC officials was not immediately returned Wednesday.

“The commission can’t get caught up on things like if it leads to a title or it messes something up in the division,” Foster said. “That’s not our thing. We have to focus on if it’s a safe fight and if the fight is reasonable at this weight class.”

Foster said if Barao makes 140 safely and is evaluated by doctors, CSAC could clear him to compete at bantamweight again in the future.

Part of the CSAC 10-point plan says that a fighter will be checked on the day of the fight to see how much weight he or she gained back after the weigh-in. If that weight is more than 10 percent above the weight class, CSAC doctors will recommend that the fighter move up to a higher division.

Since the plan was put into effect last month, Foster said CSAC has asked 10 fighters to move up on five MMA cards. The information is put in the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) database alongside medical suspensions and Foster hopes other commissions will honor it.

The plan also includes things like having the doctors approve a weight class during the pre-fight licensing process and recommending to repeat weight miss offenders that they move up to a heavier division.

If Barao just missed weight at UFC 177, that would be one thing, Foster said. But things got into dangerous territory three years ago and CSAC doesn’t want a repeat.

“If you miss weight, by and large, for the most part, you show up and you’re a half pound over or you’re one pound over, you’ll probably get another chance as long as the doctor feels like it’s safe for you,” Foster said. “This wasn’t the case. It’s just for our comfort level and his safety. He didn’t make it to the fight. I think that’s important to note.”

Barao responded to Sterling on Instagram, calling him a coward and asking him to sign the contract for a 140-pound fight.

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