Less than two hours after promising reviewing of Kelvin Gastelum’s actions on the scale at the official UFC 244 weigh-ins, the New York State Athletic Commission has decided to take action against the middleweight.
In a statement, the commission said Gastelum did, in fact, make contact with another person in violation of NYSAC policies on weigh-in conduct. As a result, Gastelum faces “disciplinary action,” though his co-headlining fight with Darren Till will proceed as planned.
“The Commission has reviewed the footage of Mr. Gastelum’s weigh-in,” read the statement, forwarded to MMA Fighting by NYSAC spokesperson Mercedes Padilla. “The Commission has determined that Mr. Gastelum made contact with another person while on the scale, a violation of the weigh in policy.
“In light of this violation, the Commission will pursue disciplinary action. At this time, 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 initially wasn’t definitive about Gastelum making contact with another person – his longtime coach Rafael Cordeiro. In a statement released earlier on Friday afternoon, it said it would “continue to review the matter,” adding “disciplinary action will be pursued if clear evidence of contact with another person during the weigh-in process becomes evident.”
The continued review quickly changed the commission’s stance. In its updated statement, it cited the weigh-in policy that forbids combatants from making contact with other people while on the scale.
“When on the scale, the combatant shall stand still with his or her feet flat upon the scale and shall not make physical contact with any person or object other than the scale,” the policy reads. “No other person shall touch the scale when a combatant is in the act of weighing in. While on the scale, the combatant shall follow any direction issued by the Commission.”
NYSAC officials didn’t appear to take issue with Gastelum immediately after he stepped on the scale. But the controversy quickly gathered steam as reporters on scene took note of Gastelum’s elbow, which appeared to be resting on Cordeiro’s chest as he waited for his weight reading.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Cordeiro vehemently denied wrongdoing and said the controversy was made up.
“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.”
The NYSAC changed its weigh-in policies after another controversy prior to a UFC 210 in 2017. Former two-division champ Daniel Cormier visibly pulled on a towel put in front of him while on the scale, prompting charges he manipulated his body position to make weight.
“There were mistakes all around there,” NYSAC executive director Kim Sumbler told MMA Fighting. “We learned from it. We changed our policy. We’re making sure that not only does the fighter not touch the towel, but that nobody else touches the towel except commission staff. As you noticed, it was not commission staff who held the towel at the Dan Cormier fight.”
Cormier was not disciplined for his actions prior to UFC 210. It’s unclear what punishment Gastelum faces at the conclusion of UFC 244, which takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden.