Update January 11, 2017 – BlugrassMMA reports that this policy has now been repealed and pros competing on pro-am cards can weigh in day before with a second weigh in on the day of the fight with restrictions on how much weight can be regained.
When combat sports regulators turn their mind to solutions for the dangers associated with Rapid Extreme Weight Cutting, a knee jerk reaction is to require same day weigh ins with fighters competing at their weigh-in weight.
As the conversation matures with physicians and other stakeholders being brought to the table this idea is stopped dead in its tracks. The reason being that fighters sometimes need to be protected from themselves. Many fighters will resort to rapid extreme weight cut practices to make weight instead of being penalized for missing weight or outright being stopped from competing. In other words they will make weight by profoundly dehydrating themselves. To the extent that commissions allows these practices athletes need substantial time to properly re-hydrate prior to competing, making same day weigh ins (without a hydration requirement) a non-starter.
The Ohio Athletic Commission, unfortunately, appears to have gone against the grain and instituted same day weigh-ins.
BlueGrassMMA.com reports as follows:
The Ohio Athletic Commission has instituted a new weigh-in policy, and it is sure to raise some eyebrows among the MMA community.
The commission sent out an email earlier today stating that pro and amateur fighters will now have to weigh-in for bouts on the same day of their event. We obtained a copy of the email below:
“A new policy will be put in place starting July 1, 2016. ALL Mixed Martial Arts weigh-ins will be conducted on day of event. This includes ALL PRO AM events. The weigh-in can start as early as 10:00 AM the day of the event. This DOES NOT apply to an ALL PROFESSIONAL CARD.”
We reached out to OAC executive director Bernie Profato for a statement:
There is still plenty of time for a fighter to re-hydrate and on the Pro AM cards there are usually only 2 to 3 Pro fights which affects 4 to 6 fighters.
If a fighter has an issue with this policy then they may being losing to much weight and not fighting in the correct weight class.
If fighters chose not to fight because of this then they may in fact be placing themselves in danger by cutting too much weight. We are not concerned what California does. We feel the earlier someone is permitted to weigh-in the more weight that can add prior to their bout. There is a weight cutting problem and if it can be corrected early in a fighter’s career it may put that fighter in a safer environment for the future.
This is a controversial approach to the rapid weight cutting issue. The above statement suggests that the commission still anticipates fighters to be dehydrated while making weight and the statement that there is “plenty of time for a fighter to re-hydrate” with same day weigh ins is not medically correct.
While earlier weigh ins may encourage more extreme cuts they also give fighters more time to rehydrate. To the extent a commission requires same day weigh ins it is essential regulators are vigilant to ensure all athletes are also hydrated while making weight as there is insufficient time for a body, and more importantly, a brain to rehydrate in one day. Fighters competing dehydrated have an increased chance of musculo-skeletal injury, brain injury and death.
Commissions cannot turn a blind eye to the dangers of both extreme cuts but also athletes competing dehydrated. Ohio’s solution seems to miss the second part of the equation.