In 2014 UFC president Dana White stated that “nobody’s ever been hurt” from Rapid Extreme Weight Cut practices in MMA. This of course is not true with both deaths and numerous and growing documented injuries being associated with the practice.
In addition to the documented cases of athlete harm, the UFC themselves have compiled substantial evidence that dangerous weight cuts still occur in the sport with high frequency.
The UFC operates their own “Performance Institute” where they have compiled an impressive amount of data with athletes under contract with them including data relating to the nature of weight cuts performed.
Last week Clint Wattenberg of the UFC’s Performance Institute gave a lecture at the 2020 Association of Ringside Physicians Annual Conference titled “Weight Cut and Nutrition Recommendations“. This lecture gave insight into just how much data the UFC has gathered relating to athlete weight cuts but more importantly that athletes continue to make dangerous weight cuts with the UFC’s knowledge. The talk is available online behind a paywall but access is available to the public at large, not just ARP members.
Wattenberg noted that weight cuts with athletes 20% over their targeted weight class 8 weeks prior to competition are considered “considerable risk” endeavours and that these happen with high frequency with Wattenberg admitting “I am regretful to say we see this profile all too often“.
Wattenberg goes on to admit that at the Performance Institute he cannot stop such weight cuts noting “we don’t really have the opportunity or ability to say no to these athletes” who are performing ‘considerable risk‘ weight cuts.
While employees at the Performance Institute themselves may not have the ability to stop high risk weight cuts the promotion themselves can given the high level of contractual control they enjoy over their athletes. The status quo continues to be a danger waiting to happen.