The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is taking a serious look at weight-cutting in MMA.
Marc Raimondi at MMA Fighting has reported on a study conducted by the CSAC on 82 fighters who fought in California in 2016 and 2017 and compared the fighters official weigh-in weights with how much they weighed shortly before their fights.
The study found that 29.3 percent of those tested gained more than 10 percent of their body weight back between weigh-ins and a fight day weight check. That would mean a lightweight, for example, who made weight the day before a fight would weigh over 170 pounds the next day, an increase of a full weight class. Then 45.1 percent of fighters gained at least eight percent of their weight back.
The study also showed that all of the fighters who gained eight percent or more of their weight back fought at 170 pounds or less, save for one middleweight indicating that the weight cutting problem may be more prevalent for smaller fighters, who have less weight to lose.
The CSAC released a ten-point plan last week with proposed measures to curtail weight cutting in MMA. Recommendations including having only ten pounds between all weight classes up to 205, same day weight checks as well as 10- and 30-day weight checks for high profile fights. A vote will be held on the proposed changes on May 16.
With more and more fights being canceled due to weight-cutting issues, there has been a lot of talk about how to fix the issue. The CSAC has been more proactive than anyone in actually doing something about it.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Weight-cutting is the most dangerous thing a fighter will do in his or her career, and that’s saying a lot considering that career involves being punched and kicked in the head. As we’ve seen with the early-morning weigh-ins, you can change the rules all you want and fighters will just use the new rules to find a way to cut even more weight. That’s just the culture of MMA and it takes a lot of time and more than a few simple rule changes to change a culture.
Adding weight-classes surely won’t solve the problem and it may exacerbate it. If a fighter can now fight in a 165-pound division, many current welterweights that couldn’t make 155 will now cut the extra five pounds to get to 165. I would argue that having fewer weight classes would do a better job of combating extreme weight cutting. If the next weight down is virtually unattainable, fighters may be more likely to fight at their natural weight.
One of the proposed measures I do like is having the commission license the fighters by weight, meaning the commission decides what class a fighter should be in and frequent offenders can be forced to move up a class. The UFC is pretty good at enforcing fighters moving up if they miss weight, but they often let them move back down after a fight or two, which should stop.
I’m happy to see that a commission is taking the issue seriously.
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NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: MONDAY NEWS DIGEST 3/27: Vitor Belfort clarifies his controversial statement he wants an easy win to end his career, suggesting Punk (w/Hiscoe)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)
I think the better solution is for fighters to just fight at their natural weight. If your normal weight is around 165, you should fight at welterweight rather than try to cut 10 pounds every time to fight in lightweight. But I guess those fighters are afraid to fight at their actual weight because they are not good enough to beat the fighters in that class.