The California State Athletic Commission’s (CSAC) new weight-cutting rules have significantly affected their first UFC fighter.
Drew Dober “must move up in weight” or get cleared to fight at lightweight by a doctor following UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif., according to the CSAC medical suspensions sheet obtained Monday by MMA Fighting.
Per the sheet, Dober came in more than 18 percent above the 155-pound division in a fight-day weight check Saturday. CSAC’s new rules say any athlete who is more than 10 percent above the weight class could be recommended to move up.
“Fighter must be cleared by physician or must move up in weight due to greater than 18% weight increase,” the document reads. “Fighter needs to be in a heavier weight class per medical evaluation.”
If Dober was more than 18 percent above lightweight, that means he stepped into the Octagon against Josh Burkman at around 183 pounds — 28 pounds greater than the 155-pound division. Dober knocked Burkman out in the first round.
Dober, 28, said he was contacted by a CSAC official Monday and told the news. But he is not yet ready to proclaim himself a welterweight. Dober (18-8, 1 NC) told MMA Fighting that he is at the UFC Performance Institute this week to rehab, get a gauge on how the steep weight cut affected his performance Saturday night and find out what would be the best division for him in the future.
The Nebraska native, who fights out of Colorado, said he accepted the fight against Burkman while walking around at 186 pounds with 10-percent body fat. But he’s only 5-foot-8 and in the UFC’s 170-pound division he’d be one of the shorter athletes.
Dober said after the fight Saturday that he’d be a perfect fit for a 165-pound division, which the UFC has yet to say it would adopt. UFC president Dana White said “nope” when asked if the promotion would be interested in bringing in the four new weight divisions approved by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (CSAC) last week. Those divisions are at 165, 175, 195 and 225.
Despite his height, Dober carries a lot of muscle in his lower body, which makes 155 a tough cut. He compared himself to fighters like Benson Henderson and Rafael dos Anjos, who are short for 170, but have a hard time getting down to 155.
“I’m a thick guy,” Dober said with a laugh. “I’m a Flintstone. I’m a dense individual. … We’re stuck in the middle. We’ve just gotta try to make the best decisions.”
Dober said he worked with noted MMA nutritionist George Lockhart for this camp and even though the sheer number of pounds shed (and regained) was a lot, the weight cut was not especially difficult, he said. Just the opposite.
“George Lockhart really made the cut super easy — probably one of the easiest cuts I've ever had,” Dober said.
Moving forward, Dober said he’ll have a decision to make after his time this week at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. He can pack on a lot of muscle, like a Tyron Woodley, and fight at 170. Or he can do more conditioning in the offseason, focus on agility, and try to get his body weight down to a more manageable level for 155. Right now, Dober, who has won three of his last four fights, said he’s “leaning towards” staying at lightweight.
“I think 55 is definitely not extremely thrown out the window,” Dober said. “If I make the correct decisions, I think 155 should be a realistic division.”
CSAC executive officer Andy Foster told MMA Fighting on Monday that Dober was the only one that doctors felt should move up in weight class after UFC 214. Other athletes were around 10 percent above the weight class or slightly greater than that Saturday night, Foster said, and they will be monitored.
“The weights were a massive improvement over previous UFC events,” Foster said. “I have the data and this was a lot better.”
The fight-day weight check and 10 percent rule were just two new provisions introduced to UFC fighters leading into the Honda Center card. For the first time, fighters had to be cleared by a doctor to compete in their chosen weight class and the fighters in title bouts on the card went through 30- and 10-day weight checks. This was all part of CSAC’s 10-point weight-cutting reform initiative that went into effect last month.
Every fighter made weight Friday and Foster deemed the week a “major success.” Foster said he expects other commissions to honor CSAC recommendations to move fighters up or get cleared by a doctor like they would a medical suspension. The average weight gain from weigh-ins to fight day, Foster said, was 7.79 percent, well under that 10-percent mark doctors have recommended.
Dober said he appreciates CSAC’s attempt to combat this issue, but described his situation as an “awkward” one.
“Overall, I think it’s great they're paying attention to the extreme weight cutting,” Dober said. “One, I think it’s overrated and two, a lot of guys do it improperly and it can be very dangerous.”