When Will Brooks made the jump from Bellator to the UFC, he was looking to come in and make an instant statement and quick run to title contention in the UFC’s lightweight division. Things didn’t quite go as planned.
The former Bellator champion’s UFC career got off to a good and quick start when he defeated Ross Pearson in July at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale. As Brooks looked to continue his three-year-long winning streak, he took a fight that should have never happened.
Brooks signed on the dotted line to fight Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 96. However, Oliveira missed weight by five and a half pounds and surrendered 20 percent of his fight purse to Brooks. Brooks did have the opportunity to back out due to the unprofessionalism displayed by his opponent, but he, like any great fighter would, opted to fight.
Once both fighters hit the Octagon, Oliveira looked more like a welterweight. Meanwhile, Brooks had made weight at 156 pounds and looked prepared for a lightweight fight. The physical body advantage was obvious to anyone watching the fight. In the first round, Brooks suffered a rib injury that would eventually cost him. Oliveira went on to win by knockout in the third round, but it was obvious that Brooks was not himself inside the Octagon due to the injury he suffered early on.
No one can say whether or not the weight advantage that Oliveira enjoyed was part of the reason Brooks suffered an injury, but it was the display of disrespect and unprofessionalism that Oliveira put forth after the win which makes this conversation one that must be had.
The taunting of Oliveira, for whatever reason he had to do it, is not only classless, but it just highlighted Oliveira’s lack of responsibility and the need for harsher penalties for fighters who miss weight by as much as he did. Brooks did tweet out that the 20 percent he received from Oliveira was going to his daughter’s college fund, which is great, but the money would have stayed with Oliveira had he acted as a professional should. Would fighters start to take making weight more seriously if they knew a penalty of at least 25 to 30 percent of their fight purse was going to occur if they missed the mark?
Even in the main event of UFC Portland, John Lineker missed weight. It was his sixth time missing weight in his UFC career. Granted, it wasn’t by the enormous amount in which Oliveira missed. However, it was still disappointing to see. While injuries and other circumstances can affect a UFC event, weight cutting should never be one. It certainly shouldn’t be followed up with a classless taunting act by the offender.
A weight cut is no joke. It’s not good for any person, let alone a fighter, but it’s part of the contract that all UFC fighters sign. In putting their name on that document, they’re agreeing to be professionals. The 20 percent sum is not a bad compensation to the fighter that is taking care of themselves, their body and honoring their contract, but if more was taken away, based on how much weight was missed, maybe the fighters would get it together.
The UFC has already installed a new weigh-in program that helps fighters rehydrate and get their bodies in better shape by weighing in the morning before fight night rather the night before. If the UFC is taking steps to help the fighters, the fighters themselves need to take steps to have their bodies prepared. If they don’t, then maybe bringing down a bigger fine will be the reality check they need.
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