The Ultimate Fighting Championship is going ahead with a new policy regarding weight cutting and looks to implement it at UFC 200 fight week this coming July.
The new guidelines will monitor fighters during fight week and stop them from cutting large amounts of weight over a small period of time.
All fighters will be subject to a weight check on a weekday before the event, with those over the 8 percent threshold having their weight monitored closely and required to sign up for weight management counselling ahead of any future fights.
“The only hard and fast rule in there, and I think it’s probably the most important thing in terms of the guidelines, is that 8 percent number,” said Jeff Novitzky, the UFC VP of athlete health and performance told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“If they’re not, it’s not in the rules the fight won’t happen, but we sure are going to pay very close attention to them, including taking daily weight, daily vitals, and as it progresses, if they show signs of being dehydrated, they will be pulled from the fight.”
Since the ban of IV drips under the UFC’s anti-doping policy last October, which allowed fighters to rehydrate following a weight cut, the majority of the UFC roster is under that 8 percent, with many fighters now aware of the dangers.
“It had a very surprising side effect in that it helped curtail extreme weight cuts,” Novitzky said. “You also see a whole bunch of fighters employing the services of nutritionists, so they are being smart about managing their weight. And the UFC is trying to provide as much as we can for the fighters that can’t afford a nutritionist.
We’ve consulted with experts who have told us, ‘Hey, here’s the optimal things you want to be eating or drinking 24 hours before your fight, after the weigh in.’ So we provide that for the fighters.”
After consulting with the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the UFC is now providing fighters with drinks and food following a weigh-in, to ensure they are on the right track back to a safe weight.
Before UFC 196 in March, fighters were only authorised to have sealed bottles of water in their preparation rooms but now the Nevada State Athletic Commission and other jurisdictions are beginning to warm up to the idea.
“That’s a brand new thing the fighters are just loving,” Novitzky said. “To my understanding, that had never been done. The only thing previously that was allowed in the locker room was sealed bottled water. Again, talking with experts and people in other sports, there was no other sport where an athlete wouldn’t be allowed to consume beverages and eat things leading right up to the competition.”
Weight cutting issues are not uncommon in MMA, only last year former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks was forced out of his UFC 192 with Tyron Woodley due to implications during his weight cut.
Chinese flyweight Yang Jian Bing, who fought under the One Championship banner, is the only fighter on record to date who died due to a drastic weight cut and with the new policy, he will hopefully be the last.
UFC 200 takes place on July 9th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
James McDonald, Pundit Arena