Research indicates that many MMA athletes compete in a “significantly dehydrated” state due to the weight cuts they put themselves through to make their contracted weight. This in turn leads to noted increased injury risks including increased risk of brain trauma.
Thanks to sports journalist Kevin Iole, we now have another illustration of health consequences stemming from fighter dehydration. Kevin recently sat down with Junior Dos Santos in an interview ahead of UFC 160. Kevin canvassed JDS’ performance at UFC 155 where the former heavyweight champion revealed as follows:
“He took a severe beating in losing his heavyweight championship to Velasquez via a five-round decision. The morning after the bout, his urine was a very dark brown, the color of Guinness Stout beer.
He wasn’t urinating blood, as some fighters do after a grueling match. Rather, the brown coloration of his urine was due to rhabdomyolysis. His muscle fiber was breaking down and getting into the blood steam.
It is a treatable condition, but it can be fatal under certain circumstances. There are numerous causes, but one is extreme physical exercise. Dos Santos trained so fiercely that he was pushing his body well beyond its natural limits.”
With JDS having weight to spare to make the heavyweight upper limit this example is likely not illustrative of weight cut issues, however, it may speak to consequences of fighter dehydration which may call into question 25 minute main events with the reality that weight cuts are the norm at lower weight classes.
The always insightful Dr. Benjamin shared the following observations on twitter:
All of this is not lost on athletic commissions, and at least one North American commission, the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, is studying this issue. The ECSC’s Executive Director, Pat Reid, “is currently conducting research on mixed martial arts competitors in terms of body weight fluctuations and the potential risk to competitors health as a result.“. The ECSC boasts some of the most extensive archives with data on about 1000 MMA fighters and about 600 boxers. It will be interesting to see the results of Mr. Reid’s research and the steps various athletic commissions will take to address these concerns.