Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been releasing segments of an interview with up-and-coming fighter Tylor Nicholson. In previous posts, Tylor told his story of breaking onto the competitive fighting scene and described his rigorous training schedule. In this segment, he discusses controversial regulations around weight cutting and some behind-the-scenes aspects of MMA culture.
Leading up to a competitive fight, Tylor undoubtedly has to concern himself with the rules and regulations set forth by the commissions. Being relatively new in comparison to more established sports, competitive MMA regulations are constantly changing, and Tylor has seen many of these changes in his four-year fight career. “I believe it’s come a long way since the days of human cock-fighting,” he said. “It’s become a lot more of a sport… it’s growing, there are opportunities for people to change their lives now… but I also think there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that people have to deal with.”
Among his main concerns is the very controversial practice of weight cutting. Weight cutting has not been standardized, meaning that different promotions may have different rules, and fighters generally try to cut their weight to the lowest possible figure. “Technically, I could cut down to 125 pounds [from 150]… but that puts my body under a lot of strain, and I’m not a hundred percent sure I could make that weight safely.” Safety is a huge concern in weight cutting, but Tylor says the lack of regulation around weight classes puts fights in jeopardy. Because fights are arranged long before the weigh-ins, fighters who are overly ambitious about how much weight they can cut sometimes fail to get down to the required weight. “A lot of times [fighters] will come in overweight,” Tylor told me, “and they don’t seem to care – there are no real repercussions about it.” This causes competitors to pull out of fights and promoters to find quick and sometimes mismatched or inexperienced replacements, another safety issue according to Tylor.
After talking about regulations, I asked Tylor about the culture among fighters; has he encountered bullying throughout his experiences in competing and training others? “I think a lot of people start off with the intention of payback – they’ve been wronged, beat up… but then they forget about it.” There’s something in the nature of training that humbles angry people because they’re constantly winning as well as being defeated, he said. In the end, it seems that bullies who join gyms become reformed as they’re taught respect and a code of ethics. Ego, however, is another story. “Everyone that competes at a certain level [wants] to be a champion. You have to have a little bit of ego to get into fighting… you have to believe you’re better than the other person,” Tylor said. It makes for healthy competition as in all sports, “but I think that half the ego you see is promotion.”
Tylor is competing for the Battlefield Featherweight title in his next fight on Saturday, October 29th at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, BC. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.