RIO DE JANEIRO – Both the main and co-main event of Saturday’s UFC 224 made weight on Friday, but another main card fighter’s miss was what really made headlines.
Mackenzie Dern, who meets Amanda Cooper in the pay-per-view main card of the event at Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena, missed the 116-pound limit allotted to non-title strawweight fights by a whopping seven pounds. Cooper took the fight regardless, though not without throwing some shade, and will take 30 percent of Dern’s show money as a result.
Dern (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Cooper (3-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) met again in the afternoon, this time at the ceremonial weigh-ins, where an abnormally serious Dern mouthed an apology to her home audience and saw her attempts at a handshake shot down by Cooper before a tense face-off.
UFC strawweights Nina Ansaroff and Tecia Torres were at the venue as well, both serving as guest fighters and corners for their respective partners, title headliners Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington, respectively, so we asked for their thoughts on the bad weight miss.
The two were in agreement about most things, including that they’d both do what Cooper did and take the fight. They would both, however, require greater compensation.
“I would take the fight, but I would ask for more than 30 percent,” Ansaroff said. “I’d ask for like 50 percent, something like that. I would be upset, because seven pounds is almost like a slap in the face. It’s pretty bad – and you would know this a day or two days ago.
“So for this to happen at the day of the weigh-ins is very disrespectful, I believe. And I would probably still accept the fight, because you train a whole camp. You don’t want to give that up because someone missed weight. You take the fight, but you should be compensated for it, I believe.”
For Torres, the miss was “very disrespectful.” She brought up Dern’s previous misses – two, precisely, at LFA – and suggested the UFC move Dern up to its newly-created women’s 125-pound division.
“You’ve got to try, and I feel at 123 you really didn’t try that much,” Torres said. “She didn’t look depleted to me. I felt like she had more in her.”
Despite her previous offenses, Dern had made weight for her two most recent strawweight encounters, on her back-to-back Invicta FC and UFC debuts. The latter took place less than two months ago, which may have been a factor as well.
Torres, however, doesn’t think that should be an excuse. While she, personally, walks around light and doesn’t have to cut much weight, “Tiny Tornado” believes fellow fighters who are in different circumstances should consider that before signing a bout agreement.
“The girls who know that they have to cut 20, 30, pounds, they shouldn’t accept the fight,” Torres said. “If you know you can’t make weight in time, then don’t accept the fight and wait longer. It’s not fair to these girls who can actually come here and make weight. And I know Amanda Bobby Cooper cuts a lot of weight, herself, so she worked hard to get down to 116 and it didn’t come easy.
“So it shouldn’t be given to Mackenzie to be allowed to weigh in that much over. For me, I didn’t even think the commission allowed you to be that far apart in weight. But, at the end of the day, I’d take the fight. I’d want to go in there and still smash her even more.”
Ansaroff, who’s had fights that were 10 days apart as a flyweight, was on a similar page as her fellow fighter.
“I’ve turned down at 115 before knowing I didn’t have enough time to make 115,” Ansaroff said. “It’s not something that – she was aware of the fight a while ago. And she knew she wanted a quick turnaround. So there really is no excuse. I’ve made 115 from 140 on four-week notice, so it’s the way that you try or don’t try.”
On a lighter note, the fact that Ansaroff and Torres talked to the press side-by-side says a lot about the promotion process for Saturday’s headliner. Although the two fighters will get to watch their partners competing for the UFC’s 135-pound women’s title – and, hell, may even fight each other some day, too – it was all love and respect.
“I’m not going to sit here and be mad or sad,” Ansaroff said. “Of course, we’re both in a relationship with both of the girls that are fighting for the main event, and both of our lives are important based on a championship belt or not. The UFC has two different levels to the game: It’s a champion and it’s not a champion.
“It’s a big lifestyle change, and we’ve always the best for each other, but we’re never going to sit here and trashtalk like, ‘She’s going to knock her out.’ They’re both ready for the fight. They both know what each other has. There’s no secrets anymore; there’s film all over the place. The best woman is going to win that night, and that’s the end of it for me.”
To hear more from Ansaroff and Torres, check out the video above.
And for more on UFC 224, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.