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How Weight Cutting Impacts MMA Betting

Bet For or Against Fighters on the Scales

Weight-cutting is an integral part of MMA training camps and not doing it well enough may be a disadvantage to the best-trained fighters. It’s a big reason why the seemingly unspectacular and customary weigh-ins one day before every MMA card has drawn widespread attention both from the fans and the betting community. It can impact MMA betting odds as lines can adjust depending on what happens on the scale.

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How Weight Cutting Impacts MMA Betting
How Weight Cutting Impacts MMA Betting

Weight Cutting in MMA: Risk vs Reward

Weight divisions exist in combat sports to match similar-sized fighters against each other. At least, that is the custom about it. But what typically happens is fighters cutting significant amounts of weight to fight in smaller divisions. This has both risks and rewards and can impact the online sports betting lines.

On one hand, we saw this when Conor McGregor, who now fights at 170 pounds, fight at 145 pounds. He defeated Jose Aldo in 2015 for the title. Aldo recently retired having last fought at 135 pounds where he too had success.

Fighters like Gleison Tibau and Dong Hyun Kim were notoriously large for their divisions. Tibau weighed nearly 200 pounds prior to his fights at 155 pounds. Kim was sized like a 185-pounder at welterweight (170). Both had productive UFC careers where they grinded opponents down with their grappling. This “size bully” tactic is beneficial, especially for wrestlers.

But there are cons to this tactic. For one, plenty of large fighters spend a good deal of their camp focusing on their diet and weight-cutting. Also, more notably, fighters depleting themselves close to a fight can backfire and make them weaker. Some have even pulled out of fights or have been ruled ineligible to compete by the ruling commissions.

We have also seen several fighters move up to a more natural weight class with more fruitful results. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Robert Whittaker are prime examples.

Johnson fought at 170 pounds in his early UFC career to a mixed record. When he moved up to 205 pounds, he became the UFC’s premier knockout artist and challenged for the belt multiple times. Whittaker went 3-2 as a welterweight but moved up to middleweight and became the champion. He has only lost to Israel Adesanya as of October 2022.

How Missing Weight Could Impact the Fighter

Since weight-cutting can be risky business, if not done correctly, a fighter could be on their way to having a bad performance. This is a widely held belief among the MMA community. After all, some fighters have even gone on to blame a poor weight cut as an excuse for a subpar fight.

Deiveson Figueiredo, the two-time UFC Flyweight Champion, blamed his weight cut for his loss to Brandon Moreno. In an interview with Combate, he said: “It really was the weight cut. I didn’t have a healthy weight cut, it was really hard to beat the weight. Left the hotel (for the arena) feeling very bad. I knew it wasn’t my day, but I gave it into God’s hands, and going to the Octagon I said, ‘Lord, your will be done.’”

When betting online, it is worth paying attention to the weigh-ins to see if any fighters look worse for wear or miss the weight. Doing the latter could signify and of these things: 1) the fighter has a bad weight cut and could perform poorly; 2) the fighter does not want to risk further depleting themselves so they avoid cutting the extra weight to perform better.

As such, fighters who miss weight still have mixed results from a betting standpoint. Per Bet MMA Tips, UFC fighters who have missed weight since August 2013 are 69-80. They have finished 48% of their victories and have been finished in 50% of their defeats.

John Lineker was infamous as a fighter that kept missing weight. And yet, he went 4-0 in the fights he missed weight. On the flip side, former champion Johny Hendricks went 0-3 in the three fights he missed weight.

Additionally, weight-cutting impacts men and women differently in the UFC. Female fighters who missed weight went 11-21 versus men who went 58-59.

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