The Solution For Dangerous Rapid Extreme Weight Cuts in Combat Sports

Posted: February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized
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A recurring theme at this website is pointing out the real dangers that come with Rapid Extreme Weight Cut practices in MMA. Documented harm has become so common that my list of injuries from Rapid Extreme Weight Cut practices has to be amended on a far too frequent basis.

Kirik Jenness, owner of MixedMartialArts.com and official record keeper for Canadian and US MMA has been equally vocal about this harmful practice and the need for reform.  In his latest article Jenness notesWeight cutting has killed a fighter. It has very nearly killed many more. It has led to the cancellation of countless fights. Due to the attendant lack of fluid cushioning around the brain, it has surely led to brain damage.”

So what is the solution?  I’ve said it before and will keep repeating it.  The danger is dehydration. The solution, therefore, is to add a hydration requirement when making weight. It does not matter if the weigh in is the day before or the day of the fight, the fighters must weigh in and be hydrated at the same time.  This can be measured cheaply and effectively.

After mentioning this repeatedly on the Underground forum, a South Carolina ringside physician agreed and provided the below practical breakdown which is worth republishing here.  Regulators need to take note.  There is an inexpensive and effective fix to the dangers of Rapid Extreme Weight Cuts.  The sport does not need another death or catastrophic injury before addressing this.

The more I have perseverated about this over the last year or so, the more I think that the fairly simple to implement process that Erik has been mentioning recently is probably the best immediate solution. Keep weigh ins the day before the event so they can be a public, buzz building spectacle like they are now, but add a simple refractometer measurement of urine SG for all the fighters just before the weigh in. A handheld refractometer is ~$500, and can simply be rinsed under a faucet between uses. Someone could test all the fighters on a card in about half an hour just standing at the sink in a bathroom. Fighter comes in, pees in a cup, it gets tested, quick rinse and next guy comes in. The person using the refractometer does not even have to be a medical person, you could train someone how to do it in a minute or two. If the SG is OK, you get to weigh in, if not, you can’t weigh in until your SG falls below the threshold.
There would be some growing pains for sure, and I would expect that initially a number of fights would have to be scrapped at the last minute. However, fighters and trainers would quickly learn what weight they need to fight at to pass the test, and I think for the most part the same guys that are fighting each other now would be fighting each other then, just at a heavier, hydrated weight. I think we will see better fights as well since guys would be performing without having gone through the hell of cutting and rapid rehydration that most do now.

Doing weigh ins like this would eliminate the expense and paperwork of certifying a fight weight like high school wrestling does, and since you would take the SG test close to the event it would make the most common method for “cheating” the SG test more risky than it would be to do it “out of competition” earlier in the year.

The first person to implement an attempt to limit weight cutting is going to draw intense criticism- particularly if it results in fights being scratched

However, I think ultimately it will benefit the sport and in retrospect fans will be glad that it was done

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Comments
  1. […] in combat sports would do well to take the issue of dangerous weight cuts seriously and consider fashioning solutions to lessen the risks associated with the unnecessary […]

  2. […] and others involved in the industry have slowly started to take notice with calls for reform with perhaps the most viable suggestion being that athletes be required to pass a hydration test when making […]

  3. […] California regulators for taking steps to address this problem.  While no solution is perfect I encourage regulators to look at the possibility of adding a hydration test to coincide with weigh…, this can ensure that every athlete cleared to compete makes weight while being hydrated which […]

  4. […] fashion minimum safety measures to prevent further tragedies from occurring in MMA.  At a minimum, adding a hydration requirement when athletes make weight can go a long way in addressing dangerous c….  Whatever the solution, ignoring the problem and saying “nobody’s ever been hurt from […]

  5. […] regulatory reform for these practices, including the practice I have been most vocal about, namely adding a hydration requirement for athletes when they make weight.  Yes this will drastically alter the current landscape of weight classes athletes are used to […]

  6. […] rapid extreme weight cuts which are the heart of the problem in the first place.  I continue to encourage Athletic Commissions to consider adding a hydration requirement which must be met at the time of weigh ins.  While this can drastically alter the weight classes […]

  7. […] that this is a real danger in need for reform.  To repeat my recent comments,   I continue to encourage Athletic Commissions to consider adding a hydration requirement which must be met at the time of weigh ins.  While this can drastically alter the weight classes […]

  8. […] that this is a real danger in need for reform.  To repeat my recent comments,   I continue to encourage Athletic Commissions to consider adding a hydration requirement which must be met at the time of weigh ins.  While this can drastically alter the weight classes […]

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