Archive for the ‘Ohio Combat Sports Law’ Category

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Ohio has some unique rules on their books when it comes to weigh ins and all UFC 203 athletes setting foot into the Buckeye State for the first time ought to be aware of these.

Somewhat controversially, Ohio has gone against the grain in the recent trend of earlier weigh ins anchored in the belief that this encourages greater weight cuts.  Given this it is unclear if the Commission will allow early weigh ins for UFC 203.  In addition to this Ohio rules also

  • limit the weight discrepancy between opponents who tip the scales in different weight classes (perhaps most interestingly not allowing heavyweights, where one cuts down to 265, with a weight difference of more than 7 pounds from facing each other)
  • Second weigh ins on the day of the event are allowed with rules on how much weight an athlete can regain from their initial weigh in
  • Ohio gives athletes multiple chances to make weight with no restriction on how much weight can be shed overall but prohibits how much weight can be lost in an hour
  • A list of strict penalties for fighters who fail to make weight

Below are the Ohio Athletic Commissions full weigh in rules for MMA

Weigh in procedures.

(A) The weigh-ins must be conducted by an inspector or a representative of the Ohio athletic commission at a place and time designated by the promoter in accordance with the rules bearing agency 3773 of the Administrative Code.

(B) All contestants must weigh in. With the exception of super heavyweights contestants are limited to shorts, shirt and socks.

(C) The scale used for the official weigh-in shall be provided by the Ohio athletic commission. If authorized by the executive director or the commission the scale may be provided by the promoter. If more than one scale is used, each contestant shall weigh in on the same scale as their opponent

(D) Allowance in weight class is the weight difference permitted between contestants in two different weight classes.

(1) There may not be a difference of more than three pounds between weight classes from straw weight up to and including the bantamweight class.

(2) There may not be a difference of more than five pounds between weight classes from lightweight up to and including the welterweight class.

(3) There may not be a difference of more than seven pounds between weight classes from middleweight up to and including the heavyweight class. 

E) When a weigh-in is conducted the day prior to the event, with the exception of the heavyweight and super heavyweight class, all other contestants may be required to weigh-in at a second weigh-in the next day scheduled by the commission within eight hours of the starting time of the event. Contestants weighing one hundred fiftyfive pounds and lower will not be permitted to exceed the weight of the previous weigh-in by more than eight pounds. A contestant weighing more than one hundred fifty-five pounds will not be permitted to gain. more than thirteen pounds, from their recorded weight from the day prior. The random second day weigh-in will be at the discretion of the executive director.

(F) Amateur contestants may not weigh in earlier than ten a.m. the day of the event.

(G) A contestant one hundred fifty-five pounds and lower may not lose more than two pounds within one hour. A contestant above one hundred fifty-five pounds may not lose more than three pounds within one hour. There are no restrictions to the number of times a contestant may attempt to re-weigh within the prescribed time period. This rule applies to a second day weigh-in also..

(H) Penalties for a fighter being overweight:

(1) Up to a sixty day suspension and/or a fine .

(2) Overweight by one ounce to two pounds shall be fined by paying opponent one hundred dollars or ten per cent of purse whichever is higher.

(3) Overweight by more than two pounds but not over four pounds shall pay a fine and pay opponent two hundred dollars or twenty percent of purse whichever is higher.

(4) Overweight by greater than four pounds and if within the regulations for the bout to continue, shall be fined and pay opponent four hundred dollars or twenty five percent of purse whichever is higher.

(5) If purse exceeds ten thousand dollars the opponent will receive fifty percent and the state of Ohio will receive fifty percent.

(6) If the bout goes on no suspensions will be issued for not making weight.

(I) Weight allowances between weight classes do not apply to amateur contestants. They must compete within the weight class. 


This week former professional wrestler Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk) is making his long anticipated debut in the UFC.

Brooks’ debut at the sports highest stage is controversial as he has no history of amateur or professional MMA bouts and unlike some professional wrestlers who made the crossover such as Brock Lesnar, he does not boast an experienced amateur combative sports resume.  His opponent on the other hand, has a 4-0 record in his professional and amateur career.

Brooks cannot be faulted for pursuing his dream. It is also difficult to fault a promoter for putting on a controversial fight as controversy sells and promoters are in the money making business.

Regulators, on the other hand, play a role when it comes to scrutinizing controversial bouts and here the CM Punk saga takes an interesting legal twist.

UFC 203 takes place in Cleveland, Ohio and is regulated by by Ohio Athletic Commission.

The requirements for a professional combative sports licence vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and Ohio has specific requirements in place for those wishing to turn pro.  Ohio Administrative Code 3773-7-20(E) sets out the following standard:

A mixed martial arts fighter will be required to have a minimum of five recorded amateur bouts with a winning record prior to being permitted to compete as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. They may appeal to the executive director or Ohio athletic commission to have this waived.

CM Punk does not meet this standard meaning the Commission has exercised a waiver of this safety standard in order to allow him to make his UFC Debut.

I have written to the Ohio Athletic Commission for comment about the factors they considered in waiving this safety standard for CM Punk.  I will update this article if/when they reply.

While a waiver can navigate this regulation, Subsection (F) is arguably a complete stumbling block which, if applicable to CM Punk, would require the 37 year old fighter to compete in a masters division for 3 events.  The Regulations don’t allow for a waiver of this criteria which reads as follows:

Masters division: applies to all amateur mixed martial arts contestants ages thirty-five and over. They must compete in this division until they have competed in a minimum of three events. After three events and a winning record they may apply to the executive director or commission to be able to compete in all levels of amateur or professional competition.

While CM Punk is not an ‘amateur’ this is solely due to the exercise of the Commission’s discretion.  The spirit of subrule (F) is to apply to all debuting Mixed Martial Artist’s over aged 35 requiring them to compete with enhanced safety measures and waiver is not permitted.


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. 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.

Dr Benjamin Tweet Ohio

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.