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Daniel Cormier on new CSAC weight rules: ‘I have to be careful’

Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier acknowledges he has to be wary of the new CSAC weight rules before UFC 213.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Daniel Cormier has been public and self-effacing about his issues cutting weight in the past. For his next fight, there will be an added wrinkle.

When Cormier defends his UFC light heavyweight title against Jon Jones in the UFC 214 main event on July 29 in Anaheim, Calif., it will be the first UFC show taking place under new weight-cutting rules approved by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). Last month, CSAC passed a 10-point plan in an effort to combat extreme weight cutting and severe dehydration in MMA.

“I have to be careful,” Cormier told MMA Fighting in a phone interview Thursday.

Perhaps the most significant part of the 10-point plan is licensing by weight class. The doctors who conduct physicals for fighters will have more influence than ever before. Previously, the only thing a doctor would determine in the licensing process is whether or not a fighter is fit to compete in the cage. Now for fighters in California, the doctor will be asked on the form whether the fighter will be able to get down to the requested weight class in a healthy, safe manner.

There is even a chart on the new CSAC medical forms that shows doctors what the weight classes in MMA are and what weight is 10 percent above those. Earlier this year, the CSAC medical advisory committee settled on anything more than a 10-percent loss in weight being a red flag.

Cormier will have to weigh-in July 28 for the title fight at 205 pounds on the dot. Ten percent above that is 225.5 pounds. So Cormier’s plan, he said, is to start his diet early and get down to 225 in time for the physical, which will be conducted about a month out of the bout.

And that’s not necessarily a negative, the champ said.

“It will actually be better for me, because I’ll get down in weight earlier,” Cormier said. “That’s the way I used to do it when I first moved down to 205.”

Cormier, 38, missed out on the Olympics in 2008 due to kidney failure brought on by extreme weight cutting. He was trying to reach 211.5 pounds for the Games and now he needs to get even lower for every one of his UFC fights at 205.

“DC” had weight issues prior to his title defense against Anthony Johnson at UFC 210. He missed weight on his first attempt, only to make 205 less than three minutes later while grabbing onto a towel.

Cormier said he was holding the towel to further protect his private parts from being captured on camera, but many believe he was using it to re-distribute his weight to come in lighter. Johnson filed an appeal saying that very thing that has since been denied by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and the commission has since changed its weigh-in policies so that fighters cannot be touching anything but the scale.

Whatever actually happened that day, there was no doubt that Cormier had a hard time losing the weight. He admitted as much a few days later on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.

“This was the hardest one by far,” said Cormier, who beat Johnson by second-round submission. “I think the beginning of my 205-pound career was easier because I was fighting so often. Like, if you remember, I fought Patrick Cummins, then I fought Dan Henderson, then I fought (Jon) Jones and I fought (Alexander) Gustafsson, ‘Rumble.’ They were all within the first year-and-a-half. So every three or four months, I was fighting; whereas now, after Gustafsson, it was like nine months (until UFC 200), and then this time again it was like eight months. So it’s just a lot of time between fights. Just, I need to be a little more active, so that my weight doesn’t get as high, and also my body gets used to the weight cut again.”

Cormier (19-1) does agree that rules about weight cutting should be welcomed, to some degree. Fighters should not have to struggle and put themselves at risk leading up to competition just so they can fight. Cormier said fighters always say once they step on the scale that “the hard part is done.”

But “DC” understands when fighters react poorly to government intervention in things like cutting weight — some athletes are doing it the wrong way, but many are doing it safely, he said. And most people who are in the discussions about these rules have never actually experienced a weight cut in their lives, with the exception of CSAC executive officer Andy Foster, a longtime former fighter.

“Fighters don’t want to be told what they and they can’t do by people who have never done it before,” Cormier said. “If [Foster] was a fighter and he’s cut weight before, then he’s actually qualified to speak on it.”

If done the right way with fighters getting a say in the matter, Cormier said he’d be in favor of cleaning up that part of MMA.

“I think there will be changes that happen, eventually,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing.”

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