Weighty Problems

Days till fight: 86   |   Current weight: 199.2lbs   |   Goal weight: 195lbs

When this fight was first arranged on Reddit, my opponent Mike and I agreed to fight at 185lbs, known as "middleweight" in western MMA. Along with the simple fact that Mike and I were coming into this experience with basically zero training (hopefully an equal match), we matched up pretty well physically too - about the same height, and with a similar amount of bodyfat (30-40 pounds) to lose to make our agreed-upon weight. 

Pretty much from the moment we made our "gentleman's agreement" via Reddit private messages, I threw myself into both training and dieting. From the date we agreed to fight to today, I've lost almost exactly 20lbs, and I'm confident that if I just keep eating and training like I have been I'll have no trouble making 185lbs by mid-October. Some rough math indicates I might be 5-10lbs underweight if I'm not careful, which is not a problem I've ever faced before!

A few days ago, I got a message from my opponent Mike, which turned into a longer conversation. He essentially explained that some personal / relationship issues had pulled his focus from training, and he's been "stress eating cheeseburgers" and has regained all the weight he had already lost, plus some, putting him back over 230lbs with only 90ish days until our fight. He was writing to ask if I'd be willing to adjust our agreement and fight at 205lbs ("Light Heavyweight") instead of 185lbs.

Needless to say, this was immensely frustrating. I've been so focused, so dedicated and so committed to training and making our agreed-upon weight, and to learn that my opponent has been distracted and eating junk food was tremendously upsetting. 

I wrestled with his offer, turning it around and around in my mind. On one hand, his weight issues are a clear sign that he hasn't been focused or training intensely, which is a good thing for me. On the other hand, I'm already 5+ pounds under the weight he was proposing we now fight at, and there's no way I won't lose at least a little more weight before October even if I stop dieting entirely - I'm just pushing my body too hard. 

Mixed martial arts history is littered with skilled fighters who opted (for various reasons - money, pride, fame, bragging rights, etc.) to fight above their natural weight class, and it rarely goes very well for the smaller guy. While there are occasional exceptions due to inhuman skill levels (see: Anderson Silva vs. anyone at light-heavyweight), flukes (see: Kimbo Slice being KO'd in seconds by Seth Petruzelli, a much smaller/lighter guy) or sheer bone-headed tenacity (see: BJ Penn, a natural lightweight, fighting Lyoto Machida, a natural light-heavyweight, to a razor-close judges decision), the most common outcome of these fights is the smaller fighter being thrown around, smothered, or smashed by the larger fighter. In other words, there are weight-classes for good reason, and the odds rarely favor the smaller / lighter fighter. 

All this was rattling around in my head. I sought the advice of my coaches, and they were pretty blunt: "amateur" or otherwise, I've been training like a pro and I will be at (or under) the agreed weight on the agreed date, and if Mike can't do the same, screw him - call off the fight and find an alternate opponent who won't screw around.

Ultimately, I opted to offer Mike a compromise: I'll agree to fight at a "catch-weight" (meaning, in-between established weight classes) of 195lbs, with the explicit agreement that if Mike doesn't think he's going to be able to weigh in at 195, he has to give me as much notice as possible so I can at least try to arrange an alternate opponent in time. So, the fight is still on, my training continues, and October 17 is still looming ahead.