Weight cutting has been one of the most dangerous part of MMA since the establishment of the Unified rules.
On Thursday, the California State Athletic Commission held a weight-cutting summit which sought input from fighters, referees, judges, matchmakers, doctors, and fight experts to see what can be done to make it safer to make weight.
Dr. Edmund Ayoub, the vice president of the Association of Ringside Physicians, was the most vocal in terms of why extreme weight cutting, and in particular re-hydration, doesn’t really work.
“It’s a myth that you can be dehydrated, put on 30 pounds before the fight and actually be stronger,” Ayoub told the committee.
Dehydration causes more problems that it solves. Besides not being properly hydrated even after an IV drip, it can also lead to low blood pressure, overheating, and in extreme cases, kidney failure, heat stroke, or heart attack. Ayoub also commented an increase in concussions if dehydrated due to reduced amount of fluid around the brain.
CSAC executive officer Andy Foster cited a study in 2013 saw 39% of fighters entered the cage dehydrated.
Under USADA rules, IV’s are prohibited as a way to re-hydrate, and the UFC enacted the rule this past October.
Since the ban in the UFC, fighters have been coming into fight week with less weight to cut. Jeff Novitzky, the UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, states most fighters come in 5 percent above their fight weight now since the ban, a 3% decrease than before it.
The committee recommended that the IV ban be brought in front of the Association of Boxing Commissions annual meeting in August.
The other changes the committee recommended was some additional weight classes. These include 165, 175 (would replace 170), 195, and 225 and super heavyweight (above 265).
Even if passed by the ABC, it will be up to local commissions to decide whether to implement the changes. The UFC stated they wouldn’t oppose changing the rules.
Personal note: I am for what the California Amateur MMA Organization is enacting in 2016 in limiting what weight a fighter can drop to. To read more click here.