The UFC’s Matt Brown failed to make weight today ahead of UFC on Fox 12. He weighed in at 172.5 pounds, 1.5 pounds above the welterweight limit. Under California rules Brown was allowed a further hour to try and shed the weight, however, due to a reported ‘miscommunication’ this did not happen. The details of this miscommunication are worth scrutinizing and create a teachable moment when it comes to regulation of rapid extreme weight cutting in MMA.
In short, after coming in over weight, Fox Sports reports that the California State Athletic Commission’s doctor advised Brown “that he should not continue to cut weight“. Sensibly, Brown followed this advice and began to rehydrate. Shortly after this, Andy Foster, the CSAC’s executive officer, told Brown he was allowed a further hour to try and make weight but Brown elected not to do so as his rehydration took him to the point of no return.
When addressing this turn of events Foster is quoted as saying “There’s a difference between advisement from a doctor and a directive by a doctor…We were just looking after his health and safety, but I was going to let him on [the scale again],”
How can ignoring a Commission’s own doctor’s advice be compatible with looking after fighter health and safety? Worse yet, Foster seems to suggest that Brown should be forgiven for his part in this miscommunication because he was “foggy” from his rapid extreme weight cutting. While Foster is correct that Brown may not bear any fault for this, the comment misses the larger point that fogginess from dehydration is clearly a sign of health impairment and one where feedback from the Commission’s own physician is warranted.
Given the ongoing harm documented by rapid extreme weight cut practices and a Commissions duty to look after fighter safety, the above illustrates exactly what an Athletic Commission executive officer should not do in these circumstances. Brown, on the other hand, should be applauded for listening to doctor’s advice, even if it fell short of a ‘directive‘.