A case study was published recently in the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism linking rapid weight cutting as a possible culprit in the death of a mixed martial artist.
In the article, titled Case Study: Fatal Exertional Rhabdomyolysis Possibly Related to Drastic Weight Cutting, the authors reviewed the case of a fighter that died from exertional rhabdomyolysis. The fighter was noted to have Sickle Cell traits and the authors noted the death was possibly connected to the rapid weight cuts that are all to common in Mixed Martial Arts. The study notes that the sport should adopt safer weight control practices and more specifically that sickle cell trait screening should be part of the regulatory process.
The study’s full abstract reads as follows:
Rapid weight loss or “weight cutting” is a dangerous practice that is ubiquitous in modern combat sports yet underrepresented in the medical literature. We present a case of exertional rhabdomyolysis in a mixed martial artist with sickle cell trait in order to illustrate the hazards of weight cutting and ensuing critical illness. Sickle cell trait is known to predispose patients to exertional rhabdomyolysis and multiple fatal cases have been reported in the setting of strenuous exercise. Dehydration and consequent electrolyte abnormalities make combat sport athletes with sickle cell trait particularly vulnerable to this entity. This case suggests a potential role for sickle cell trait screening in this population and underscores the need for safer weight-control practices and monitoring among all combat sport athletes.