The most nerve racking time for fight week isn’t when the fighters enter the cage but about 24 hours before on the scales.
One person who is nervous on stage is Julie Kedzie, the InvictaFC matchmaker. Kedzie also serves as the one overseeing the health of the fighters coming into the weigh-ins. There is very little that passes by her, including knowing if someone is going to miss.
Only three of the 15 InvictaFC cards (5,11,13) saw every fighter hit the mark. (It should be noted several fighters came in as late replacements, and at Invicta 6, Jessica Penne came in 0.1 pounds over.) The promotion has put in place policies to help curb overweights and know what is happening in a weight cut with their athletes.
The first rule many are aware of: if an athlete misses weight the first time around, it is 15% of their pay. If they miss a second time or simply doesn’t try, they are docked 25%.
“A 25% reduction of a purse is a huge deal for fighters,” Kedzie told Wombat Sports. “Very few of them have a willingness to sacrifice a quarter of their purse, or the reputation of missing weight, after they’ve experienced this once. In addition to this, if a fighter chooses to discontinue to attempt to make the contractual weight, the commission and/or promotion is well within there rights to completely cancel the fight. We also have a caveat that we have the right to terminate an entire contract with a fighter if they don’t make weight. Athletes also sign a waiver when they check in that states they know they are in danger of being cut if they don’t make weight.”
Kedzie hopes it doesn’t come to that. To insure things are going smoothly, she keeps tabs on her athletes. Bi-daily weight checks were something she enacted when she took her current role. These consist of athletes doing an in-person weigh in and a text of their weight anytime during the day (fighter can choose night or day). The fighters are usually diligent in coming to the onsite office to check weight.
Kedzie also stays up late the night before weigh-ins, just in case fighters want to check their weight before hitting the sack. Kedzie emphasizes “it’s important for the athletes to understand that as an organization, Invicta will always endeavor to put the needs of the fighter first”.
“When I first began to demand twice daily weight checks, it was a simply because I didn’t want fighters missing weight on my watch. I still don’t. But I’ve really come to love each of these athletes and want to protect them. I am in no way a doctor or medically/scientifically trained to diagnose or treat dehydration or the other negative aspects of the weight cut. The more familiar I have become in watching athletes cut weight, the more I am noticing when a cut seems to be going smoothly or not. Shannon Knapp very wisely has EMTs working for the company and I am able to red flag certain situations and ask that medically trained eyes be kept on an athlete who appears to be struggling.”
Kedzie isn’t alone in wanting to see athletes cut health. Several states, including California and Invicta’s home state of Kansas, are leading the charge. Kansas has instituted earlier weigh-ins, something Kedzie tells us she is looking forward to see in practice. InvictaFC 17 in May will be in California, where several measures have been implemented by the commission. Two which Invicta will have to do in their return to the Golden State is a dehydration test and a ban of IVs. Kedzie won’t be implementing these next week at weigh-ins. She sees the CSAC is helping the safety of the athletes, and knows there is going to be growing pains when InvictaFC 17 fight week comes.
The system Invicta has created can only go so far. Athletes, their coaches, and nutritionist are the ones who decide what weight to go to. Aspen Ladd, who is fighting at InvictaFC 16, went on record and is going up to 135. Kedzie went on record praising Ladd for being proactive.
Come March 10 in Vegas, 18 athletes will step onto a scale. The scale will impact them financially, and their reputation with the company. That pressure could be more than the fight itself.
“At the end of the day, it is entirely up to the athlete and her team to determine her weight class. When they sign a contract saying they will appear at a certain weight, they are obligated to make that weight. If an athlete has made a mistake in shooting for an unrealistic weight class, she and her team should understand that they are in position to reevaluate her choices. I’m always happy to make recommendations to them, but it is ultimately in the fighter’s hands to abide by her own word.”