Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
The measure, he said after Oliveira defeated Justin Gaethje on Saturday, is a security guard to stand watch over a scale that the promotion calibrates to mirror the one used by the state athletic commission overseeing the event. White indicated that non-U.S. fighters may have been responsible for altering the promotion’s scale used at UFC 274, possibly resulting in inaccurate readings.
“We have this issue where guys come out and they’ll start checking the scale the night before and all the Europeans and guys from other parts of the world do kilos, so they all start f****** with the scale to look at kilos and, who knows… ,” White told reporters after the pay-per-view event at Footprint Center in Phoenix. “There’s so many moving parts to this beast of a machine that we run every week, and we’ve got to have a security guard in there where the scale is now. It’s something we’re going to have to do.”
Oliveira was stripped of the title when he stepped into the octagon on Saturday, the consequence of a half-pound overage in the 155-pound lightweight title fight. He went on to defeat Justin Gaethje in the first round, recovering from early trouble to submit the former interim champ. Because he had been stripped, his win only guaranteed him the No. 1 contender spot, a fact White confirmed to the Brazilian after he hopped over the octagon to celebrate.
In the wake of Oliveira’s weight miss, which came after his second attempt at making 155 pounds, he swore that he made weight the night prior to the official weigh-ins on Friday. But on a last-minute check, he said he discovered he was 2.2 pounds over and was forced to cut weight again.
Oliveira also cited other fighters who had issues with the scale, several of whom alleged the difference between the promotion’s scale and the official one varied between a half-pound up to two pounds. UFC flyweight Matt Schnell wrote on social media that the promotion warned them that the unofficial scale was off.
The Arizona State Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission, which regulated UFC 274, released a statement after the weigh-in mishap clarifying that the official scale was calibrated correctly and added “any scales used for any purpose other than official weigh-ins (such as those that may be used for fighters to unofficially test their weight) are not calibrated or inspected by commission staff as they are typically provided by the promoter.”
The commission, however, did not have explicit authority over the UFC title, which is awarded by the promotion. Previously, the UFC indicated it would call a fighter the champ despite a weight miss when lightweight Al Iaquinta came in heavy for a last-second title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov if he won at UFC 223.
“As far as the commission goes, Khabib is the one that’s eligible for the title,” White then said. “But obviously, if ‘Ragin’ Al wins this fight, he’s the champ.”
White indicated Oliveira will occupy a similar status following UFC 274, no matter what happened officially on the scales.
“He’s the guy,” White said. “He didn’t make weight. We have rules, he didn’t make the weight, the belt is vacant. But I’m sure in the minds of the media and fight fans, Oliveira’s the champion. But technically, he’s the No. 1 contender now.”
White reacted in horror when he first heard that Oliveira was the last fighter to weigh in on Friday morning.
“No…oh my f****** god,” he said of his reaction. “It’s the worst thing that can happen during a … [UFC executive] Lenee Breckenridge … hit me with all the people, and I hit her back and said, ‘No Oliveira?’ And she’s like, ‘He’s up next.’
“So I was like, oh s***. Why’s he last, and the worst that could possibly happen happened.”
Possible contenders like Islam Makhachev, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier all chimed in to get a shot at the official No. 1 contender after Saturday’s event. The one thing White can say for sure is that Oliveira will “100 percent” be fighting for the belt he lost on the scales.