Chiesa: I thought I was going to die from weight cutting at UFC 226
The past months have not been kind to UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa. During UFC 223 fight week, Conor McGregor attempted to intimidate Khabib Nurmagomedov by throwing a hand truck at a bus. 'The Eagle' was amused, but two fighters on the bus including Chiesa were injured by flying glass and unable to fight.
Chiesa's fight vs. Anthony Pettis was delayed until last Saturday's UFC 226; he lost via submission. During a recent conversation with Ariel Helwani, Chiesa said the weight cut was so bad he thought he would die.
"I can't emphasize this enough, Ariel, I seriously thought I was going to die," said Chiesa, as transcribed by Chamatkar Sandhu for ESPN. "Going through the first part of my weight cut, on Thursday, I really thought I was going to kill myself and I'm not exaggerating in the slightest."
"Ultimately my body had nothing to give. When you can't do road work for a week-and-a-half [due to a foot injury], that's really hard on your weight cut. I came into fight week at 175 pounds, and usually I come into fight week at 169, 168 pounds. It was just too much for my body to handle.
"We cut weight for eight hours. We cut for four hours on Thursday night and I was up at 5 a.m. cutting weight on the day of weigh-ins [Friday] and my body had nothing more to give. I'm not exaggerating: I thought I was going to die. In the middle of the night before the Friday weigh-ins, I woke up and started having a panic attack. I broke down and started crying and was like, 'I think I'm going to die.'
"I've never felt like this. I made 155 my whole career without a hitch and it never feels good, but it's never like this, never in my life."
Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, crafted a 10 Point Plan to fix the lethal problem. It works. The ABC medical committee supports it. The ABC has adopted it. The UFC supports it and will continue to adopt further parts of it. One of the points is new weigh classes, so a fighter doesn't have to go from 155 to 170 to 185 to 205. Instead, Foster reasonably suggests 10 pound increments. Chiesa wants it.
"I was already in talks with people around me. Win or lose, after this fight, I think I want to go up," said Chiesa. "A lot of people are trying to steer me to 170 pounds. I'm a big guy; people don't realize that. There's only one guy at 170 that's bigger than me, and that's Darren Till. I'm not a small guy. I can get up to 205 pounds and be athletic and be in shape.
"If [the 165-pound weight class] happens, it happens. If it does, I welcome it with open arms. I'm a big advocate for it. If they add 165 pounds, it would be heaven sent. It would be a blessing to a lot of us guys."