Having just discussed the fiasco involving the result of the co-main event on Saturday’s card, there was actually another big story surrounding the main event.
As is well known, Daniel Cormier first weighed-in at 206.2 pounds, 1.2 pounds above the required limit for a championship fight. He then went back to the dressing room, came back less than 3 minutes later and weighed-in at 205 pounds on the nose, while holding the towel that was used to cover his privates and was held by two other guys on both sides.
Since obviously something was out of order here, allegations were immediately thrown Cormier’s way for cheating, claiming that by leaning on the towel, Cormier was able to lighten the weight he was putting on the scale by exactly those 1.2 pounds he needed to make the required weight. And in fact, when looking at Cormier weighing-in the second time it does look as if he is pushing down on the towel while looking at the scale as if he is trying to decide exactly how much he should be pushing down on the towel in order to get to the desired weight.
While it’s easy to blame Cormier for the incident, and he probably should be blamed, Cormier did what he did in plain sight. It wasn’t some smart trick he pulled behind the scenes. There couldn’t be a chain of events which would make it easier to understand that something was not right in the process, yet the people who were responsible for monitoring those proceedings, the New York State Athletic Commission, don’t get a whole lot of flak for the way they dealt with the situation. That’s not to say that they haven’t been criticized, but most references I could find about the incident direct the blame on Cormier, as if the Commission’s role in the situation is secondary.
From the moment of the weigh-ins until now the NY State Athletic Commission didn’t suggest once that there was anything wrong with the weigh-in process. A fighter sheds 1.2 pounds in less than 3 minutes and the commission doesn’t see this as suspicious, as a cause for halting everything until they can understand what happened. From what I understand their official position is still that there was nothing wrong with those weigh-ins. They didn’t say that Cormier cheated, they didn’t say that the scale was faulty. Everything was fine. In an interview with the executive director of the commission right after the weigh-ins, he only explains what the procedural rules regarding the weigh-ins are, but he explicitly says that it’s not their job to understand how Cormier was able to shed those pounds so quickly.
Obviously the commission, like all athletic commissions, have conflicting interests regarding any sport and MMA is no exception. On the one hand they are in charge of monitoring the rules in order to protect athletes’ safety and sporting fairness. On the other hand they have an interest in attracting sporting events to the state in order to make money. Those conflict of interests are well know and have led to many dubious decisions by athletic commissions in the past, but usually they could be justified by a matter of difference of opinions, even if they seemed ludicrous at times. This time it’s much worse, because they are obviously ignoring the laws of nature. Nobody can shed 1.2 pounds in less than 3 minutes without even doing any exercise or anything. It should be obvious, and they are just ignoring it completely by declaring in fact that they accept the chain of events as a legitimate one which doesn’t need explanation.
In fact it goes further than that. The NYSAC not only does not address this issue, and through ignoring it pretty much acknowledges the process as legitimate, but also doesn’t make itself available to any questioning. This total disregard of the MMA community is very disrespectful. What they are basically saying is that they don’t have to answer to us – the fans, the MMA media, the people this sport is supposed to be created for. We are not the people who can really affect them so we don’t really matter. All those rules and regulations can be disregarded or changed on a moment’s notice.
In this case it was good for them to have a championship fight in New York and they didn’t want to spoil it by looking too hard into something that was obviously not right, so they just let it slide – hiding behind an excuse that it’s not their job and not making themselves available to questions about this issue or any other thereafter. That is all very understandable to me, disappointing as it is. What I don’t understand is why the MMA community is going along with it so easily. The real issue here should be the behavior of the NYSAC. All the writings on the issue should have the Commission as the main offender, and the main target of criticism. People should be clamoring for an explanation unrelentingly, not accepting the commission’s ignoring the situation, and demanding an answer. Instead, the criticism is mostly directed at Cormier, who, at the end of the day, is just another fighter, and his behavior will not be what makes or breaks this sport.