Mixed Martial Arts has a problem with rapid extreme weight cutting. The tactic has led to death, permanent injury and an ever growing list of health consequences for fighters who resort to extreme practices to end up competing against opponents who are ultimately somewhat similar in size.
Pennsylvania is the latest jurisdiction to attempt to address this “scary” problem through regulatory reform. Today, Greg Sirb, the Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission released the following details about their plans to establish minimum safe weight classes for fighters based on body composition:
As many of you know I have long been an advocate for same day weigh-ins – for me it truly forces a fighter to compete at a more natural weight. I do realize there is some merit to having the day before weigh-in, but without having some type of check/balance to the “re-gain of weight” the potential for abuse of this system is alarming.
The weight-cutting abuses have been fully documented and the health-related consequences are SCARY. I see most of these young, amateur fighters going to train/practice for the sole purpose of losing weight – when they should be at practice to improve their skills.
As such the PA Commission will now begin a “trial” program that will require all amateur MMA fighters be tested for body fat. This program will be patterned after the NCAA and high school wrestling programs which state NO wrestler (fighter) can go to a weight that is below 5% of their total body fat. The American College of Sports Medicine and The American Academy of Pediatrics have set 5% as the minimum percent body fat to ensure good health (females will be at 10%). Going below the minimum of 5% body fat can lead to serious health consequences and impaired performance. THIS IS A FACT. This 5% RULE has worked effectively for the past (16) years in both NCAA and many high school wrestling programs
All amateur MMA fighters, Kickboxers, and Muay Thai fighters will tested/weighed and a MINIMUM weight will be established for each fighter (again always maintaining the 5% body fat rule).
ONCE this MINIMUM weight is established the PA Commission will place this weight on the ABC MMA database (this weight will be clearly marked in the box beside the fighters name). This fighter will NOT be able to compete (in PA) in any weight lower than this 5% body fat weight.
Although the PA Commission realizes that each Commission is on their own in determining whether to let a fighter compete at a weight lower than his/her established minimum weight – I would caution all Commissions to use good judgement in this regard particularly when it is an established FACT that going lower than 5% body fat is NOT HEALTHY.
If every Commission forces these amateur fighters to abide by the 5% body fat rule, I feel this would go a long way into eliminating the dangers of Dehydration.