California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster has been one of the most outspoken regulators when it comes to rapid extreme weight cut practices in MMA, an entrenched reality of the sport that comes with real dangers.
Last year Foster stated that reform is coming to California and details of proposed reforms are now coming to light.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto interviewed Foster who revealed that their goal is to address the problem bottom up starting with the amateurs. A tentative plan is in place to create a lowest allowable weight limiti for anyone competing in amateur MMA by January, 2016. Okamoto reports as follows:
Effective Jan. 1, 2016, amateur mixed martial artists competing in California will comply with a lowest allowable weight limit, designed to prevent athletes from ever dropping below 5 percent body fat.
That is the current goal, according to California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO) director JT Steele and California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) executive director Andy Foster.
While it’s not completely certain changes will go into effect by the start of next year, that is the timeframe CSAC and CAMO are anticipating. The longterm goal, Foster says, is to see lowest allowable weight limits adopted at a professional level….
The new amateur program, once in effect, will set a minimum weight class a fighter is allowed to compete in, based on a physical assessment conducted by a CSAC-licensed ringside physician. This practice is already utilized by the NCAA in amateur wrestling. While the NCAA also prohibits specific weight-cutting methods, CAMO intends to focus exclusively on the lowest allowable weight limit for now.
I applaud 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 ins, this can ensure that every athlete cleared to compete makes weight while being hydrated which would address the root danger that come from Rapid Extreme Weight Cut practices, ie – profound dehydration in close proximity to competition.