He was the first man up Friday morning, but the UFC’s lightweight king took his time stepping to the scale, appearing to be slightly agitated as he called for a towel to cover him so that he could remove the excess poundage of his clothes. He delicately stepped up and then brought his hands to his face in relief as he got the all-clear signal for Saturday’s main event.
155. Championship weight. Nothing to be nervous about.
Keen internet sleuths have pointed out that the official checking the weight was quick to dismiss Nurmagomedov from the scale even as it appeared that the scale’s bar appeared to be tilting upward, indicating that something may have been amiss. It should be noted that Nurmagomedov was not the only fighter to have his weight measured with such speed.
Officially, Nurmagomedov made the mark for Saturday’s title fight main event opposite Justin Gaethje, but that didn’t stop the online discussion from brewing, which included a few of his peers who commented on the suspected miss, protocol, and Nurmagomedov’s overall demeanor.
Khabib didnt make weight.— Olivier Aubin (@oliaubin) October 23, 2020
Change my mind. https://t.co/raIXPn5XVa
Looks like He missed weight to me!— Tim Elliott (@TElliott125) October 23, 2020
FYI the @ufc makes you step on the scale in a back room before you go for the official weigh in. You don’t get to step on the official scale unless you’re on weight and especially if you are the first one on the scale ♂️— Deron Winn (@DeronWinn) October 23, 2020
"If we hear the hooter for the fourth round it's all Gaethje for me!"— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 23, 2020
"I'm more 50/50 after seeing Khabib on the scales."@DanHardyMMA and @Peety_Editor give their final thoughts for the #UFC254 main event. pic.twitter.com/CiTOtN7WwV
While we wait to see if anyone from Gaethje’s team raises their concerns over the matter, we’ll leave it to you the reader to decide whether there was something fishy going on with Nurmagomedov’s weigh-in.
What do you think of the Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 254 weigh-in controversy?
This poll is closed
He made weight
He had help
Nurmagomedov’s tense turn on the scale brought to mind past UFC weigh-in controversies, a couple of which also had championship stakes. Let’s take a look back and see how some of the UFC’s biggest names may have previously gamed the system.
Probably the first example that comes to mind when weigh-in controversies are discussed, Daniel Cormier fooled everyone ahead of UFC 210 with a last-second weight cut that was truly mystifying.
Heading into his second fight against Anthony Johnson, Cormier initially came in heavy for his light heavyweight championship defense by 1.2 pounds. The repercussions of missing weight in this situation would be devastating for Cormier who likely would have been ineligible to retain his title even with a win. He was given the opportunity to weigh in again and no more than three minutes later, he returned to the scale and made weight.
Of course, in the footage above, Cormier can clearly be seen holding onto the towel the scale is being checked, an old school wrestling trick that allows a competitor to shift their weight just enough to pass the test. I’d estimate that about 1.2 pounds were shifted, give or take.
Afterwards, Cormier had this to say:
“It was crazy, I weighed in upstairs and I was like ‘Man I’m OK, I’m going to do this. It was harder than normally, but we figured we had it done, the scale was weighing different.”
He added that he was simply holding onto the towel to keep from being exposed and he denied making any kind of attempt to manipulate the scale. The following night, Cormier recorded his second consecutive defense of the UFC light heavyweight title, defeating Johnson by second-round submission.
There are layers to this one.
UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and lineal Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz was already a proverbial oil and water pairing before they finally arrived in Montreal for UFC 158. St-Pierre, the genial and ever-professional French-Canadian, had little in common with the brash, sun-baked, Stockton street style of Diaz.
The two were previously matched up at UFC 137, but Carlos Condit took Diaz’s spot when Dana White decided to punish the mercurial Diaz for neglecting his media obligations (St-Pierre would later face Condit at UFC 154). Still, there was no stopping this highly-anticipated duel from happening and they eventually met in March 2013, with St-Pierre sweeping the scorecards to successfully defend his UFC title for an eighth straight time.
Their beef didn’t end there. Shortly afterwards, controversy arose when it was suggested that St-Pierre was actually a few ounces over the championship limit of 170 pounds. According to the Quebec commission, it is a rule that they ignore decimals when calculating weights.
Here is how then-UFC vice president Michael Mersch explained the situation to Diaz’s team:
“Here, they’re going to allow you and Georges to have an extra hour. Just in case somebody doesn’t make it. But the good news is, they don’t count the decimal. If you’re 170.2 it’s 170. If it’s 170.9. it’s 170.”
That explanation apparently didn’t sit well with Diaz, who told Chael Sonnen in a 2015 interview that he believes St-Pierre actually came in three pounds heavy and that St-Pierre was on steroids for their fight.
Years later, St-Pierre would shockingly admit to all of the above as well as poisoning Diaz and receiving alien gamma ray treatments to enhance his strength for the championship clash.
It’s no secret that Kelvin Gastelum had struggled making the welterweight limit in the past, but after returning to middleweight pounds in 2016 it appeared that the Ultimate Fighter 17 champion had straightened out his issues at the scale.
However, those old problems reared their ugly head again at the weigh-ins for UFC 244. With an important co-main event fight against Darren Till ahead of him, Gastelum couldn’t take any chances and he called for the towel before weighing in. His trusty coach Rafael Cordeiro was by his side to provide moral support and lo and behold, Gastelum not only made weight, he came in at 184, two pounds under the non-title middleweight limit.
Upon closer inspection, it seems that Cordeiro may have been their for more than just moral support. Gastelum and Cordeiro were later accused of cheating the weigh-in, with observers pointing out that Gastelum appeared to be gingerly resting his elbow on his coach’s shoulder.
The New York State Athletic Commission found no evidence of wrongdoing and Cordeiro was incredulous at the accusations of mischief.
“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.”
On fight night, Till won a close split decision over Gastelum, so things worked out for Till even if the bout was possibly made official through nefarious means.