EDITORIAL – Weight cutting has become a prominent issue in mixed martial arts. And there’s good reason for that. It’s a practice that could greatly affect a person for the remainder of his or her life.
With several fighters pushing their bodies to extremes to weigh in at a lighter weight than they could ever reasonably walk around at, many of them falling ill or suffering medical issues related to the weight cut, the focus of several athletic commissions and officials has focused on reforming weight regulations.
California has spearheaded much of the movement in stricter weigh-in requirements in the United States. California’s plan includes putting a 10-percent limit on the amount of weight a fighter can regain between the weigh-in and fight time, heftier fines for missing weight, recommendations that promotions utilize more and narrower weight classes, and restricting a fighter’s weight class if doctors deem the medical risk is too great to continue in a certain division.
While many strides are being made in educating fighters on the dangers of weight cutting and teaching them the proper way to do so without risking their health, there are still utterly ridiculous situations being allowed to continue.
Though they’re not alone, one promotion that has to be called to task is Pancrase. The storied Japanese fighting organization has a rich history that includes a laundry list of MMA greats including Nate Marquardt, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Renzo Gracie, and numerous others. But what they allowed to happen at a recent weigh-in is unacceptable.
Brazilian fighter Daniel Lima could barely make it to the scale at the Pancrase 290 weigh-in. In fact, he had to be held up as he staggered to the scale, presumably unable to make it to the stage of his own accord. His team had to help him stay upright as he stepped onto the scale and they held onto him until the last possible second before officials recorded his weight.
According to a report by MMAFighting, Lima was still two pounds over the weight limit for his fight with Daichi Kitakata, but allowed to remain in the bout. Lima made it through the fight without incident, losing via a unanimous decision.
Though Lima framed his weigh-in as “tough, painful,” he never considered removing himself from the bout when Pancrase officials asked him after the weigh-in if he was still going to fight.
While Lima, like any other fighter, opts to take the fight or not and agrees to a weight class, etc., I still find it unfathomable that the fight promotion and his coaches, both of whom are charged with considering the safety of their fighters, would allow Lima to compete after stepping on the scale in such a state.
If a fighter can’t make it to the scale on his or her own, how is that fighter medically fit to recover in time to step in the cage without putting his or her health at great risk?
I have been around mixed martial arts for the better part of two decades, most of it spent covering the sport. I have seen numerous bad weight cuts, but the ones that I have witnessed that have come close to this, as best I can recall, have resulted in the fighter being removed from the bout.
Weight cutting has become much more refined, and many fighters are learning safer ways of doing it, but there is obviously still room for more reform and education.
(Video courtesy of ReactQ)