A Discussion on Cutting Weight in MMA

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Weight cutting has come up a bunch this week. Rickson Gracie is going to start a new fight promotion in Brazil, and part of his plan is to have same-day weigh-ins to stop fighters from cutting too much weight. Also, Dennis Hallman, DeMarques Johnson, and Rich Attonito are no longer employed by the UFC, in large part for their inability to make a weight that they agreed to. I'd like to engage the BE community on the topic of weight cutting and find out if people think it is a problem in the sport of MMA?

I personally hate weight cutting, and how it impacts the MMA culture. For those people who don't think cutting weight is that bad, I ask the question... how bad would you have to feel to just hand over 20% of your pay check to your opponent right before a fight... even when it is just 1 or 2 pounds left to cut? Yet, we see it a couple times a month in MMA. It is ridiculous watching athletes not eat full meals for days leading up to a fight, and drain their bodies of all water, and then gain back 15-25 lbs overnight before they compete in a fight and expect them to put on their absolute best performance. Based on my first hand experience cutting weight for 4 years of wrestling in high school, and then hearing stories about Anthony Johnson before the Belfort fight, Jose Aldo before the Hominick fight, and Daniel Cormier at the 2008 Olympics really makes me wish that some steps could be taken to eliminate the weight cutting culture from the sport. There is something to be said about going through a full training camp, and dropping weight due to the hard training, and focus on proper nutrition, but sitting in a Sauna, and being dangerously dehydrated should have no place in the sport.

A point that I think of is that Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo should be fighting for a UFC title, but it should be at 155lbs, and not 145lbs. Both men have been forced by the culture of the sport to go through a brutal weight cutting process, and I just feel that is not what the sport of MMA should be about. It is the Ultimate Fighting Championships... not the Ultimate Weight Cutting Championships. Edgar has been an exception to the rule for years, and it is amazing what he has accomplished to this point in his career. I honestly feel that if the weight cutting culture was changed... it would not have that big of an effect on MMA. Most fighters would just move up a weight class. Aldo, and most FWs would be at LW, Bendo a WW, and GSP a MW. The big change would come with the LHWs and HWs, and how they would run into each other.

I don't claim to have the perfect solution... but I want to give my thoughts on what I think a good system would look like.

Prior to being professionally licensed, the fighter's body fat percentage, level of hydration during the exam (so a fighter doesn't go through a brutal weight cut prior to seeing the doctor) and current weight are analyzed by a doctor who determines what the safest weight a fighter can be expected to fight at is. The fighter is then approved for a weight class. I know that some fighters change their lifting routines, and diets to drastically cut weight... and fighters would be able to seek a new exam on a yearly basis.

I'd also look at a two weigh-in system. One weigh-in the day of fights is not the answer to stopping weight cutting. I don't thing it would be as extreme, but we would end up with fighters stepping into the cage dehydrated, and likely in more danger. What I would propose is a two weigh-in system. The fighters weigh-in the day before the fight as they currently do. Then the weigh-in again two hours before the first fight of the card. Any fighter who makes weight the day before, can weigh in up to five pounds over the weight class limit the next day. This would give fighters a chance to eat a healthy meal, and drink water between weigh-ins and the fight. Unless they have been going through an extreme weight cut, they should not be gaining five pounds in one day. There is part of me that thinks they should do a weigh in after the fight, where the fighter has to be with-in 10 pounds of the weight class limit... but there could be all kinds of problems with that system, if fighters have injuries, and possibly the resulting DQs or No Contest could tarnish events, especially if a title had to be stripped following a fight.

If a fighter misses weight twice, they will no longer be able to compete at that weight class, and will only be certified for the next higher weight class.

I don't claim that my solution is perfect, and I know that some people don't even think there is any kind of problem, but I'd like to hear everyone else's thoughts on the matter.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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