The difference between weighing 136 pounds and 135 pounds on Friday morning is more than just 16 ounces. It also could be the difference in being able to fight for the bantamweight title at UFC 238 in Chicago on Saturday night.
With Marlon Moraes and reigning flyweight champion Henry Cejudo scheduled to face each other for the vacant bantamweight title, each fighter must be exactly on weight at 135 pounds to have a chance to compete for the actual belt.
But this is MMA, and no matter how “down to science” a fighter thinks they have the weight cut process, anything can happen in the hours leading up to 9 a.m. Central Time on Friday.
So, it behooves four other bantamweights on the UFC 238 card -- Aljamain Sterling, Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera and Petr Yan, all ranked in the top nine -- to at least consider hitting the 135-pound mark instead of just being within the one-pound allowance window.
"One hundred percent," said Sterling, who grew up in Uniondale. "I know weird things have happened. I know Henry has missed weight before, but that has been at flyweight. I highly doubt he's going to miss it at bantamweight. That would just be insane. But, I'll make it just to make it, make a statement. That's pretty much all I can do. You never know when your boxers might weigh 0.2 [pounds]."
Sterling had to look no further than his hotel room for such an example. Serra-Longo teammate Al Iaquinta, with Sterling this week in Chicago, went from first fight on the UFC 223 pay-per-view to a title fight in the span of a few hours in April 2018. Iaquinta weighed in at 155.2 pounds for his originally scheduled lightweight bout against Paul Felder, so technically the New York State Athletic Commission couldn’t recognize Iaquinta as the lightweight champion if he had beaten Khabib Nurmagomedov. Iaquinta said he weighed the undershorts he wore on the scale and they weighed 0.2 pounds.
But again, this is MMA, and it's not just missing weight that can happen. On Wednesday, Cejudo denied a report that he injured his right knee during a training session the night before. He later said that he hit his knee on the corner of a table and had a "little bump."
Illinois' athletic commission also could halt either Cejudo or Moraes from cutting any more weight if they sense the fighter's health is in danger. NYSAC did such with Max Holloway at UFC 223, which kicked off the process of elevating Iaquinta to the title fight.