The “biggest, baddest card in UFC history” got a little smaller Friday morning.
The three title fights remain intact for UFC 205 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the first event in New York City since the ban was overturned last March. But the pay-per-view card will have a change as Kelvin Gastelum missed weight and his welterweight bout against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone was canceled.
“I will not be fighting @CowboyCerrone 2morrow on account that I couldn’t make the wght limit,” Gastelum tweeted. “I apologize 2 Cowboy ure a legend. God bless.”
Gastelum did not step on the scale during the early weigh-ins Friday morning at the Affinia Hotel on Seventh Avenue. Cerrone weighed in at 170.4 pounds, which is within the one-pound allowance for the 171-pound welterweight division.
Section 212.4 of the New York State Athletic Commission provides for a maximum weight differential of the fighters of 7 pounds to allow a welterweight match to be contested, so Gastelum had to have weighed at least 177.5 pounds Friday morning in order for the fight to be canceled.
UFC officials said they found out in the 8 a.m. hour that Gastelum was struggling to make weight. Gastelum had until 11 a.m. to get to 171 pounds. Cerrone weighed in at 9:15 a.m. Gastelum posted his tweet at 9:47 a.m., so Cerrone didn’t have an opportunity to bulk up and technically miss weight in order to keep the fight alive.
“About $150,000 worth of [ticked] off,” Cerrone said when asked to summarize his emotion shortly after finding out.
Cerrone, who said he bought 20 tickets to the fight for friends and family, still will be paid his show money.
The ceremonial weigh-ins took place at the Garden at 6 p.m. Friday night, with approximately 15,000 fans in attendance, setting a record for fans at a UFC weigh-in. Most of the crowd there were Conor McGregor fans, and they took the party outside the Garden afterward with spirited chants and flag waving.
Gastelum was one of three fighters who technically missed weight. Thiago Alves weighed in at 162.6 pounds, missing weight for his lightweight bout. (He couldn’t be above 156 pounds at most for the 155-pound weight division.) His opponent, Jim Miller, was on weight initially but he bulked up to 157.2 in order to keep the bout within the commission’s seven-pound weight difference allowance for a lightweight fight. Miller and Alves will fight at a catchweight of 163 pounds on Saturday, UFC vice president of communications Dave Sholler said. Alves must not weigh more than 173 pounds when he reports to the Garden on Saturday, Sholler said, adding that it was a mutually agreed-upon number by the fighters and the commission. Alves forfeits 20 percent of his fight purse ($12,000) to Miller for missing weight. Miller will not be fined because he was on weight as needed initially.
The purpose of the early weigh-ins, which has become the norm for UFC events since June, is to give fighters more time to rehydrate their bodies after getting down to the requisite weight for their division. Before the early weigh-ins, fighters would weigh-in around 4 or 5 p.m. local time.
This procedure was recommended by the California State Athletic Commission and first was implemented at UFC 199 in June. Each state commission has the right to accept or refuse the promoter’s request for early weigh-ins. Marc Ratner, the UFC vice president of regulatory affairs, said the NYSAC agreed from the beginning to the process.
“I love the early weigh-ins,” said Michael Johnson, who weighed 155.8 for his lightweight fight against Khabib Murmagomedov. “They’re incredible. We get so much more time to rehydrate and to relax. We weigh in and we’re good. We can chill.”
UFC 205 main card, 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view
Lightweight championship: Eddie Alvarez (154.6) vs. Conor McGregor (154.4)
Middleweight championship: Tyron Woodley (169.8) vs. Stephen Thompson (169)
Women’s strawweight championship: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (114.4) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (114.4)
Middleweight: Chris Weidman (185.8) vs. Yoel Romero (185.6)
Women’s bantamweight: Miesha Tate (135.6) vs. Raquel Pennington (135.6)
UFC 205 prelims, 8 p.m. on FS1
Featherweight: Frankie Edgar (145.4) vs. Jeremy Stephens (145.8)
Lightweight: Khabib Nurmagomedov (155.8) vs. Michael Johnson (155.8)
Middleweight: Rafael Natal (185.4) vs. Tim Boetsch (185.4)
Welterweight: Vicente Luque (170.6) vs. Belal Muhammad (170)
UFC 205 early prelims, 7 p.m. on UFC Fight Pass
Lightweight: Jim Miller (157.6) vs. Thiago Alves (162.6)
Women’s bantamweight: Liz Carmouche (134.8) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (135)