Two years ago, UFC bantamweight Aspen Ladd frightened onlookers during her pre-fight weigh-in when she walked onto the scales visibly shaking from an extreme weight cut even by UFC standards. The weight cut was so bad she was eventually suspended from fighting.
Unfortunately, history has repeated itself.
Ladd, still competing at bantamweight and scheduled to face Macy Chiasson on Saturday, showed up for her weigh-in looking visibly unhealthy and shaking on the scale, to the point that it took several minutes to properly register her weight. She struggled to lift her arms when asked. Even after a clearly brutal weight cut and removing her clothes, she missed the 135-pound target weight.
UFC officials told ESPN's Marc Raimondi that the bout was called off less than an hour later.
Here's video of Ladd on the scale with a privacy screen, but be warned it's an uncomfortable watch:
— Helen Yee (@HelenYeeSports) October 1, 2021
Ladd later addressed the cancelation in an Instagram post and on her story, calling it "all my fault" and saying Chiasson decided she didn't want to go through with the fight, which had been previously postponed due to injury for Chiasson.
The statement on her story:
At this point it sounds like a broken record... But my fights off. I take complete and full responsibility for not making weight. It's well documented that I've had issues with weight cuts in the past not just as a female but in general. There are times where you think that you do everything right and then mother nature comes into play but bottom line is you've got to prepare for anything and everything. I thought that I had. I wish that I had the knowledge and the experience of seasoned fighters yeah I'm nine and one, 10 fights in my professional career and it's something that I'm getting better. That I should be better at, but I commit to be better at as I move forward.
I make no excuses only apologies to the UFC who has invested so much in me, to the matchmakers, to my opponent, to my fans and supporters, to my family, but most of all to my team. Who sacrifice so much for a chance at a win inside of an octagon. For a fight camp that normally last 3 months in this case 5 months comes down to 1 pound. I can only say I apologize and I have to do better. I'll be better. There are no other options.. as I love this sport and I want to continue to do what I love and be the best... Again I'm sorry. I will be better!
That situation isn't much different from the one in 2019, when Ladd was preparing to fight Germaine de Randamie. Ladd at least made weight that time, but would eventually lose by TKO after 16 seconds. What's more, it also happened in 2018.
The post-fight weight math in 2019 was brutal. Ladd weighed in at the requisite 135 pounds for her weight class, but then showed up for the fight at 159 pounds. Which means she gained 24 pounds in the span of 36 hours, an 18 percent increase in her body weight.
Following that episode, the California State Athletic Commission suspended Ladd's license to fight at bantamweight and lifted it more than a month later after she showed "real weight loss." It's unclear what happened in the time since.
This go-around triggered the usual worries on social media:
Aspen Ladd should not fight tomorrow. That was extremely troubling. Common sense has to prevail here. What in the world.
Just wait for the video.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 1, 2021
Yeah, they shouldn't let her fight, this was hard to watch. https://t.co/l7kqctPxsA
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 1, 2021
Another Aspen Ladd weigh-in. Another Twitter timeline shocked and appalled that she's terrible at weight-cutting.
— RJ Clifford (@RJcliffordMMA) October 1, 2021
Ladd's issues are an extreme example of an issue pervasive across combat sports, but especially in the UFC. Certain fighters will dangerously dehydrate themselves leading up to their weigh-in, make weight, then regain as much weight back as they can over the next day. A few have collapsed in the process.
Some have tried to address the problem. The ONE Championship promotion did it in 2017 by weighing fighters multiple times during the week leading up to their bout and testing their urine for signs of dehydration.