It’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s planned biggest fight of the year, and could very-well prove to be the biggest marquee fight they have ever promoted. Unfortunately there’s a good chance that it won’t actually happen – at 145lbs anyway.
Back in February, the UFC and USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) announced their partnership in a new out-of-competition drug testing program, which came into place on July 1st. The program was described as “the most comprehensive, effective, best program in all of professional sport” by Jeff Novitz, the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance.
It continues to be a polarizing topic in our little world, and it’s something that has been discussed ad nauseam among MMA athletes, journalists and the bigwigs of the UFC – but at its core, for the clean athlete, it’s a win.
However, the pending outlaw of IV re-hydration (intravenous re-hydration) is something that will affect even the cleanest of them.
The IV ban was initially due to be enforced starting with UFC 189 on July 11th, but following much criticism by fighters and coaches alike USADA initiated a grace period of October 1st for fighters already cutting weight for upcoming bouts.
Speaking to journalists in Brazil on Friday, Jose Aldo uncharacteristically blasted USADA, and challenged them to stop him, as he confirmed his plans to ignore the decision and continue to use intravenous injections to recover from his weight cut to 145lbs.
This could be the biggest obstacle that the UFC faces in trying to put this fight together.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what Aldo believes or thinks – and it doesn’t matter what we think either – IV re-hydration will be banned from October 1st. Period. It’s something that will affect a significant percentage of fighters, including the likes of Conor McGregor, who are notorious – pun intended – for cutting an extreme amount of weight to compete in their respective weight divisions.
That being said, you can’t fault Aldo for being irate. If anyone knows how difficult weight cutting can be, it’s him.
Back at UFC 129, which is interestingly the largest-attended UFC event of all-time – something the UFC hope to trump with this fight – Aldo struggled to make the 145lbs limit, residing to defeat with 1.1 pounds to go before eventually hitting the mark at the final hurdle. He went on to win the fight, despite clearly feeling the effects of the massive weight-cut in the 5th round against Mark Hominick.
Many thought Aldo’s days were numbered at featherweight.
He proved his detractors wrong and successfully made the weight six more times since that dreaded day in 2011. However, this recent decision by USADA might be the final nail in the coffin and the end of the road for Aldo at the 145lbs class.
If Aldo can’t physically recover without the use of IV re-hydration, that puts the UFC’s plans of a featherweight unification bout with Conor McGregor in major jeopardy. It also puts Aldo’s position as the champion in serious peril.
The blame can’t put on Aldo himself; he has fought under the ZUFFA banner (the UFC and WEC combined) a total of 15 times, making weight successfully on each occasion. This is just the state of mixed martial arts in 2015 and going forward – for better or for worse.
Am I saying that it’s definitely not going to happen? No. It’s only Jose Aldo who truly knows if he can physically make featherweight and rehydrate to a healthy-enough state to compete, this time without the use of post weigh-in IV re-hydration, but with the evidence that we have available to us it’s hard not to be skeptical.