Over that last decade and a half weight cutting has become common practice in MMA competition. So much so, that it is now considered incredibly unusual if a fighter doesn't cut at least 10 lbs in the last day or two before a fight. Fighters who compete at their walking weight, or below their divisional limit are something of a rarity. Because of the complex nature of MMA governance (there isn't much in the way of cohesion) there aren't really any firm regulations on how fighters should go about weight cutting. The percentages, dehydration techniques, and re-hydration techniques are very much left to the volition of the fighters themselves. In this climate, it's of little surprise then that a desire for greater consistency of approach exists. Such is the nature of the Association of Ringside Physicians recently released statement on weight cutting in MMA.
The ARP recommends standardized weigh-in policies in conjunction with yearround weight management programs. These would include scheduling weigh-instwenty four hours or less before the start of competition. Therefore, establishing a lowest allowed fighting weight (weight class) for competitors through body composition and hydration assessment is essential. Combatants should be assessed and certified at their appropriate weight annually. This assessment should be completed by non-biased examiners, in conjunction with licensure, and stored in an international data bank accessible to athletic regulatory bodies. In this light, the ARP will be establishing a medical database to provide this and other resources. Regulatory bodies should also consider adding additional weight classes in certain sports where needed.
Additionally, in order for an athlete to maintain proper weight control and optimal body composition, a continual commitment to proper diet and training is required. Educational programs should be established to inform coaches, athletes, administrators, promoters and sponsors about the adverse consequences of prolonged fasting and dehydration on performance and health. These programs should discourage the use of extreme methods for making weight; i.e., excessive heat methods (such as rubberized suits, steam rooms, hot boxes, saunas), excessive exercise, induced vomiting, laxatives and diuretics. Nutritional programs should also be instituted to emphasize and meet an athlete's individual needs for adequate daily caloric intake from a balanced diet high in healthy carbohydrates, the minimum requirement of fat, and appropriate amounts of protein.
The Association of Ringside Physicians notes that as much as 39% of current MMA fighters may be entering complete dehydration in their weight cutting process. And the process of IV re-hydration used to recover from such a drastic cut is "considered a doping violation with several international organizations." You can check out the entire document here.
In general, it seems like the ARP has a good plan going forward as for how weight cutting in MMA could be better regulated, but unless they can get state athletic commissions and the UFC to voluntarily sign up for a more expensive and time consuming process, I don't see any practical way to put it in to action. And even still, it would be almost entirely impossible to regulate at the international regional level, where oversight is often slim to none. Still, small steps forward are better than no steps at all.