Four fighters failed to make weight ahead of the event, which will be headlined by heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. But Alves’s miss, a UFC record, will cost him the fight altogether, while the other three will forfeit up to 30 percent of their respective purses.
Alves on Friday attributed his excess weight to eating salmon.
“I ate salmon yesterday and fell ill, [had] vomit and diarrhea, so the doctor said I had to treat [drinking] water,” he told MMA Fighting. “I only had [4.4 pounds] left to cut, [but] when I drank water my weight went up and got stuck, so the doctor didn’t clear me to fight.”
Alves told MMA Fighting his “normal weight is 195 pounds,” and that this would be his final bout at featherweight — at which the limit is 145-pounds — before returning to lightweight. Had Saturday’s bout been at the 155-pound lightweight limit, Alves still would have still come in too heavy.
“I know a lot of people is criticizing me, but I don’t care. Jesus was God’s son and he was criticized despite all his power, so imagine me, a flawed man on Earth? But thank God the UFC hasn’t said they will cut me, so I’ll be back soon,” Alves said. “They said I’m a showman that will give the UFC a lot of profit.”
Alves seemingly knew he would miss weight before he stepped onto the beam scale.
He buried his nose inside a black UFC mask and placed his fingers over his eyes, pausing for a moment before someone asked, “You all right? Rafael are you okay?” Alves seemed to be choking back tears.
He stepped up, accompanied by the clunk of the scale. Pictures snapped, Alves hung his head and his weight, 157.5 pounds, was announced before he raised his right hand to clasp the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and squeezed his eyes shut. With tears in his eyes, he joined his open palms together as if he were praying and said “sorry,” before seeming to pout, stepping off the scale and walking toward the edge of the stage.
“[UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby said that health is what matters now,” Alves said. “He told me this has happened to champions before, and told me to fight at 155 and come back stronger.
Among the other three fighters to miss weight for this weekend’s event, Ketlen Vieira weighed in above the bantamweight limit and will forfeit 20 percent of her purse to opponent Yana Kunitskaya in Saturday’s co-main event. On the undercard, Jared Gordon, who weighed in above the featherweight limit, and Drako Rodriguez, who weighed in above the bantamweight limit, will forfeit 30 percent of their respective earnings to their opponents.
Anthony Johnson set the previous UFC record for missing weight when he came in 11 pounds over the middleweight limit for a 2012 fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142. Johnson weighed 197 pounds for that bout, which was to be fought at the 186-pound limit. Johnson’s manager told USA Today the fighter fell ill and needed to rehydrate just before the weigh-in, just as Alves claimed. The bout still went on and Belfort won via first round submission.