The embattled Brazilian was set to face Aljamain Sterling at UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif. on July 29, but it appears the California State Athletic Commission will not allow Barao to make the cut to the 136 pound limit due to his past health issues trying to make that weight. FloCombat has confirmed the story with multiple sources close to the situation, and as of this time the bout between the two fighters is still on the card, just at a catchweight of 140 pounds.
According to sources Sterling was offered the option of pushing the fight back to a card in September, but already deep into his training camp the Serra-Longo fighter has opted to stay on the Anaheim card rather than wait. Sterling is coming off a victory in his most recent bout against Augusto Mendes at UFC on Fox 24 and put himself back on track to become a contender in the 135-pound ranks.
Barao also picked up a victory in his last outing, and was planning a move back to bantamweight where he once held a divisional title. This news will keep that momentum from picking back up, and further showcases just how serious the state of California in their push for fighter safety.
"Do you remember UFC 177, the one over here in Sacramento? The last time we had to regulate Mr. Barao at 135, it didn't turn out so good," CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster told FloCombat. "He didn't make it to the fight. Our doctors and our commission staff, we are certainly not against the fight [vs. Sterling]. We're happy with the fight. Just not at 135. Now, if Mr. Barao makes 140 no problem and everything's good, in the future if he wants to fight at 135, we can revisit that.
"But last time he was here, he didn't make the weight. I don't even know if that's an accurate statement. He didn't weigh in. That's probably a better statement. So we're going to 140, and I think that's a responsible course of action."
To Foster, this decision is an extension of several commitments the state of California has made to protect fighters' health, most notably, the recently introduced 10-point plan (h/t MMAFighting.com).
"We've began this 10-point plan to address weight cutting, and since we began that plan, which has been very recently, we've moved 10 athletes--10. That's not an insignificant number of athletes," Foster said. "We've moved 10 athletes to a new weight class, up. If you're putting on 15, 16, 17 percent of your body weight back in 24 hours, our doctors don't think that's a healthy way of doing it."
FloCombat also reached out to Sterling for details on the situation and when asked about the any additional pay for having to fight at a different weight limit he said, "That was the most frustrating part because the scale usually beats up Barao like TJ [Dillashaw] does. But after this fight, it will be the scale, TJ, and Funk Daddy that beats him!"
Stay tuned to FloCombat for more news as the situation continues to take shape.