Legal Breakdown of Daniel Cormier Weigh in Controversy

Update June 2, 2017 – today the NYSAC rejected Anthony Johnson’s disciplinary complaint against Cormier.  It is worth noting that they have overhauled their weigh in rules since the Cormier incident. 

The NYSAC’s full letter denying Johnson’s request can be found here (courtesy of Marc Raimondi)

Okamoto tweet

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This morning some controversy arose during Daniel Cormier’s weigh in for his title defense of the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 210.

The New York State Athletic Commission utilized early weigh ins slotted to end at 11:00 am. With minutes left Cormier hit the scales, stripped bare, and weighed 1.2 pounds over the limit.

New York State Athletic Commission regulations do not allow a fighter to weigh in over the limit for title bouts with section 212.4(c) noting “In championship matches the participants must weigh no more than the maximum weight allowed for the relevant weight class“.

The rules are silent on whether a second chance is allowed for fighters who initially miss weight with the rules simply noting that “The times and places of all weighing in ceremonies shall be as determined by the Commission“.  Moments later Cormier weighed in again.  Given the regulatory silence and the above wording allowing the second weigh in is likely a matter of commission discretion so likely no controversy yet.  Additionally, the NYSAC has a “weigh in procedure” bulletin, and although it references boxing and not MMA, it reads as follows for title bouts –

In a title bout, if a boxer is not at or below the contracted weight when he or she gets on the scale at the official weigh-in, the boxer will be given up to two hours to attempt to make the contracted weight.”

What was controversial was that Cormier made weight the second time dropping 1.2 pounds in a matter of approximately two minutes.  While this can be explained by perhaps something like a quick bowel movement, it can also be explained by Cormier leaning on the towel during the weigh in letting some of his weight be braced by others.

Cormier Screeshot

(screenshot via MMAFighting stream)

A rule violation that likely did occur, however, is violation of s. 212.4(a) which requires a weigh in to occur “in the presence of their opponent “.  Cormier’s opponent was not present at the moment he weighed in (but was in the vicinity as he weighed in moments after).

The reason for this requirement is so the opponent can speak up when issues such as this controversy arise.

New York also has a strangely worded prohibition for rapid extreme weight cuts but bizarrely this does not get triggered until 24 hours before the bout (after fighters make weight) so this rule was not violated.  It is set out in s. 208.14 of the Regulations and reads as follows –

No professional boxer or professional mixed martial artist shall participate in any contest or exhibition following weight loss of one percent or more of body weight within 24 hours prior to such contest or exhibition, unless otherwise authorized by the Commission. A combatant may be disapproved for participation in a match or exhibition if, in the professional medical opinion of the reviewing physician, it would be unsafe for the combatant to compete in the match or exhibition due to a finding of dehydration or extreme weight loss.

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