Eight fighters at Bellator 228 cut a dangerous amount of weight

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The culture of extreme weight cutting is the most dangerous regulatory issue in mixed martial arts. Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission has created a 10 Point Plan to fix the deadly problem. It works. The ABC medical committee supports it. The ABC has adopted it. The UFC supports it and will continue to adopt further parts of it.

One point in Foster's 10 Point Plan that he and other progressive commissions take, is to weigh in fighters on fight day. If a fighter is more than 10% heavier than their contracted division, then they are severely dehydrating, and can be recommended to move up a division, unless cleared to be in their division by a physician. Foster plans to add a rule allowing CSAC to cancel fights where fighters put on more than 15% of their bodyweight between weigh-ins and fight time.

At Bellator 228, eight fighters cut a dangerous amount, indicated in bold:

Gegard Mousasi (186 to 202.4 pounds = 9%)
Lyoto Machida (186 to 204.6 = 10%)

Patricio ‘Pitbull’ (144.9 to 155 = 7%)
Juan Archuleta (144.6 to 164.8 = 14%)

AJ McKee (144.9 to 161.8 = 12%)
Georgi Karakhanyan (145 to 161.8 = 12%)

Darrion Caldwell (144.9 to 158.2 = 9%)
Henry Corrales (144.4 to 158.8 = 10%)

Daniel Weichel (144.2 to 165.5 = 15%)
Saul Rogers (144.8 to 165 = 14%)

Adrian Najera (135.4 to 143.2 = 6%)
Jason Edwards (134.4 to 153.5 = 14%)

Benji Gomez (130 to 141.8 = 9%)
Johnny Santa Maria (129.3 to 134.8 = 4%)

Ozzy Diaz (184.4 to 198 = 7%)
Andre Walker (184.4 to 200.4 = 9%)

Ian Butler (164.8 to 177 = 7%)
Emilio Williams (162.9 to 175 = 7%)

AJ Agazarm (146 to 160.2 = 10%)
Jonathan Quiroz (144.7 to 153.2 = 6%)

Ava Knight (114.9 to 123.8 = 8%)
Shannon Goughary (116 to 122 = 5%)

Antonio McKee (163.2 to 171.4 = 5%)
William Sriyapai (167.9 to 183.2 = 9%)

Johnny Cisneros (175.6 to 189.2 = 8%)
Mike Jasper (174.7 to 194 = 11%)

Leandro Higo (136 to 156.8 = 15%) 
Shawn Bunch (135 to 148 = 10%)

Weber Almeida (144.5 to 158 = 9%)
Castle Williams (144.4 to 150.4 = 4%)

Joshua Jones (155.9 to 171.8 = 10%)
Domini Clark (155.6 to 164.8 = 6%)

James Barnes (132.1 to 142.4 = 8%)
David Duran (132 to 142.6 = 8%)

Figures courtesy of Damon Martin at MMA Fighting.

Dehydration is medically classified as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the percentage of body weight lost. Mild dehydration is said to be present with fluid losses of 5-7%. Moderate dehydration is 8% to 10-11%. Severe dehydration is 11-12% or more of body weight; it requires immediate medical care. Death occurs at a loss of between 15% and 25% of the body water.

Two fighters, Daniel Weichel and Leandro Higa, cut 15% of their body weight. Could they have died? Probably, like an alcoholic, their body can take an amount of stress that might kill a normal, healthy person. Led Zep drummer John Bonham used to reportedly start his day with 16 shots. But if a normal person drank a fifth of vodka in say two hours, it might well kill them. And on the day he died, Bonham started with 16 as usual, and kept drinking all day, around 40 shots in total. He fell asleep that night and died. MMA can wait until there is a death in a high-profile fight, or we can adopt Foster's sensible process everywhere.

And lastly, it's all for nothing. At this event, seven fighters who cut more than their opponent lost, and seven won. In fact, a recent study indicates that cutting more is associated with a lower win rate.

So it's all for nothing.