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Did Kelvin Gastelum lean on his coach to make weight for UFC 244? Rafael Cordeiro says ‘no way,’ commission responds

Kelvin Gastelum was under the middleweight limit for a UFC 244 clash with Darren Till in New York.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Story updated at 2:41 p.m. ET to reflect statement from New York State Athletic Commission that Gastelum’s weight will stand and the bout with Till will proceed.

Kelvin Gastelum was the last fighter to weigh in for UFC 244 on Friday morning in New York, successfully making weight at 184 pounds for a middleweight contest with Darren Till.

Moments after the official weigh-ins were wrapped up, though, videos surfaced on social media that showed the UFC fighter touching – and possibly leaning – on his longtime coach Rafael Cordeiro, a move interpreted by some observers as a way to ensure he wouldn’t come over the middleweight limit.

Cordeiro dismissed the controversy as “drama” while talking to MMA Fighting after the weigh-ins.

“People are tripping,” Cordeiro said. “I went there to check his weight. How am I going to lift him two pounds with my chest? They are crazy. They are tripping. It’s drama to sell the fight. There’s no way. There’s no way.

“There were two athletic commission officials there, I was in front of the whole world… That’s impossible. It doesn’t even cross my mind to try to break the law. The kid made weight, two pounds under. He did his job. He was the last one, he was sweating, running like a maniac, working hard, and got the job done. Everyone has a mouth and can say whatever they want.”

Neither Gastelum or Cordeiro had any immediate issues with the New York State Athletic Commission, which regulates Saturday’s event at Madison Square Garden. According to a statement released by the NYSAC after the controversy erupted, commission officials reviewed footage of the weigh-in and determined Gastelum’s result will stand.

“The Commission has reviewed the footage available to it at this time of Mr. Gastelum’s weigh-in,” read the statement sent to MMA Fighting. “The official weight determination will not be disturbed, and Mr. Gastelum will not be disqualified from competing in UFC 244, as the possible contact indicated in the video cannot be said to have materially impacted Mr. Gastelum’s weight to the extent that he would have exceeded the applicable weight limit allowable for competition in the match.

“The commission will continue to review the matter and disciplinary action will be pursued if clear evidence of contact with another person during the weigh-in process becomes evident, as any such contact is a violation of commission policy.”

Gastelum’s weigh-in brought back controversy from an earlier event regulated by NYSAC. Back in 2017, Daniel Cormier was accused of using the towel to make weight for UFC 210. The athletic commission even changed the weigh-in procedures after the incident.

Other athletic commissions have also taken direct measures to make sure fighters are weighing in properly. Earlier this year, well-known veteran Ramsey Nijem was disqualified from a fight at PFL 5 when he refused to fully step on the scale.

All “drama” aside, Cordeiro remains focused and confident that Gastelum will get back on track after losing to Israel Adesanya and once again challenge for a UFC middleweight belt.

“Every coach wasn’t that beautiful, spectacular victory,” Cordeiro said. “We’re fighting for the win. We have three rounds to win this fight, and we have all the tools to get it done. We know he’s a very tough opponent, a kid that is moving up in weight. But we’ll still do what has to be done, always moving forward for the victory from start to finish, knowing that a good performance can mean another fight for the belt.”

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