Monday, August 10, 2015

Mixed martial arts is seriously addressing the vitally important issue of PED use. However, there is a culture of extreme weigh cutting that received far, far less attention, and has been identified by notables like California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster as the biggest danger in the sport.

It is beyond dispute that there is a culture of extreme weight cutting in mixed martial arts. Changing such a culture takes time, in all likelihood a great deal of it. Foster has begun an educational process, with rules changes to follow. And now, under the direction of Arkansas State Athletic Commission Chair Lydia Robertson, “The Natural State” has become the first State or Province in North America to enact a legal change to address weight cutting.

It involves the amateur ranks, critical in changing the way fighters address cutting, before they enter the pro ranks.

 To All Interested Parties:

The Arkansas State Athletic Commission held a Special Meeting at 12:30pm on Tuesday 7/22/15 at the 5th Floor Conference Room located at the Arkansas Department of Health (4815 W. Markham, in Little Rock). The Commission considered and then voted unanimously for the Rule to reduce drastic weight cutting, by limiting excessive weight gain to 7.5%.  On Monday, August 10, 2015 the Executive Sub-Committee of the Arkansas Legislature passed the Rule which will be in effect for a maximum of 120 days.  Within that time-frame, the Arkansas State Athletic Commission must go through the formal rule-making process, including the public comment period.

The emergency rule for amateurs will become effective by Wednesday, August 12, 20150 as the Commission believes immediate implementation is necessary because imminent peril to the public’s health, safety and welfare exists.  The Commission noted there were three combative events prior to August 23, 2015. Promotors for those shows were notified on July 22, 2015 too expect implantation of the Emergency Rule at their events.

Based on a 60 day study performed by the Arkansas State Athletic Commission and voluminous medical findings, amateur fighters are dehydrating themselves in order to “make weight.”   Of over 66 fighters who fought in Arkansas in January and February of this year, nearly 44% percent had gained over 15 pounds between day-before weigh in and day-of weigh in, and one fighter moved from 174 pounds to 206 pounds the day of the fight.

In addition, on July 18, 2015 in Fort Smith, AR, 30% of the bouts (or a total of 6) people were transported to the hospital. Dehydration was found in four of those and suspected in the other two.

In addition to the Arkansas data and experience, medical evidence from presentations at the Association of Boxing Commissions, numerous neurologists, even the Association of Ringside Physicians have been publishing similar statistics for over ten years.  Although many other Commissions are considering similar Rules, Arkansas is the first state to pass and implement the weight gain limitation. 

The emergency rule is to be placed in Chapter 1 of the Rules and Regulations (published in April, 2014) and shall read:
 Any Amateur Combative Sports fighter shall not gain more than .075 (7& 1/2 %) of his advance weigh-in body weight, and in no case, shall any fighter be allowed to gain weight sufficient to move up more than ONE published weight class for his specific sport.  

Fixing the issue of extreme weight cutting is going to take years, maybe many of them, but it is now fully begun.