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 Post subject: Cutting Weight Dilemma
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:32 am 
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Cutting Weight.

We've all heard the term. Athletes in combat sports are well acquainted with the phenomena. Why do they need to cut weight? Obviously, they need to fight at a specific weight that is generally at the maximum of their respective weight classes. Attaining maximum size in a weight class of 171-185 lbs would maximise their advantage. But at what cost?

Dehydration is the enemy of any fighter in mixed martial arts. The way that fighters "cut weight" before a fight is by dehydrating themselves before the weigh in, and then trying to re-hydrate themselves as much as possible between the weigh in and the fight (one day). This is so the fighters can use their increased size as an advantage in the fight - but this is only economical if they other fighter isn't cutting weight too. Imagine two fighters, who "walk around at" 220 lbs, but both cut weight before a fight, and fight (artificically low for both) at 205 lbs. It corrupts the very reason in having weight classes.

Fighters, in their training, achieve a natural fighting weight based on many things, and only some of those result in increased muscle mass. Their body responds directly to the stresses that are put on it. If they work out with weights for most of their training, they'll be very strong, but with strength comes decreased mobility (muscles get in the way) and lack of endurance. Watch any fight with some heavily muscled combatant who looks like a steroid freak and you'll see how they are gasping for air before the first round is even complete. Bob Sapp comes to mind. Those huge muscles, while able to deliver more power, require massive amounts of oxygen to sustain. The standard length of mixed martial arts fights (15-25 mins) does not support fighters who are so heavily muscled that they cannot endure this much time fighting.

Many smaller fighters have used this to their advantage, using endurance to outlast the barrage from a much larger opponent, only to press for the submission or TKO once his larger opponent's oxygen has been sufficiently depleted so as to minimize his strength. Royce Gracie. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Randy Couture. Fedor Emelianko. These are but a few

These fighters, except for Randy Couture in his stint of dropping to 205, which I'll examine later in this thread, always fight at their natural weight. They all fight people in the heavyweight class, which has no weight limit.

So there is a natural trade-off between size and endurance, built into fights, because of biology's restrictions itself. We only see this phenomena in a pure state in the heavyweight class, where cutting weight never comes into play. The fighters train for a balance between strenght and endurance, as they see fit. More strength can win a fight quickly, but lose a longer fight from lack of endurance.

How often do you see a serious weight lifter, packed with muscles, out jogging? Lol.

Since the purpose of weight classes is to pair fighters of similar sizes against each other but the system as it stands encourages abuse and results in fighters fighting at artificial weights in an effort to maximize the advantage created by the rule (the weight limit), the system should be altered to negate the possibility of abuse. This will keep athletes healthier too. Fighting at their natural weight is obviously better than dehydrating themselves heavily before a fight in order to strike some biological balance between weakness (from dehydration) and strength.

How can the abuse of cutting weight be resolved?

Easily. Abuse could be eradicated by testing the weight of the fighters multiple times over a longer period (perhaps every day for a week) prior to a fight.

The purpose of weight classes is, essentially, fairness. That the creation of the classes themselves, on the basis of achieving some fairness would precipitate a behaviour that negates, to some degree, the entire notion of "fairness", is counter-intuitive.

There is already a built-in biological limitation on a fighter whereby increased strength/muscle mass results in less endurance. Plus, it's not healthy for fighters to cut weight. If the incentive to cut weight was removed using this method, we'd see less of these bully types, who cut weight heavily in order to physically dominate smaller opponents. Fighters like Phil Baroni. And Tito Ortiz (later in his career). Bob Sapp. They aren't even successful in the longterm, so it's no advantage at all to them, unless losing fights against naturally smaller opponents was their paradoxical aim.

Lol.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:37 pm 
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Update on this post from almost 8 years ago:

After the death of a fighter Yang Jian Bing, OneFC (Singapore) has banned weight cutting altogether for their fighters. Here is an excerpt from their new policy:

"During fight week, weights are checked daily. Urine specific gravity will also be checked the day after arrival and 3 hours prior to the event. Athletes must be within their weight class and pass specific gravity hydration tests all week and up to 3 hours before the event."

Hopefully this will spread to the larger MMA organisations.

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