Study cites weight cutting as possible cause of fighter’s death

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A case study was published recently in the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism linking rapid weight cutting as a possible culprit in the death of a mixed martial artist.

In the article, titled Case Study: Fatal Exertional Rhabdomyolysis Possibly Related to Drastic Weight Cutting, the authors reviewed the case of a fighter that died from exertional rhabdomyolysis. The fighter was noted to have Sickle Cell traits and the authors noted the death was possibly connected to the rapid weight cuts that are all too common in mixed martial arts. The study notes that the sport should adopt safer weight control practices and more specifically that sickle cell trait screening should be part of the regulatory process.

The study’s full abstract reads as follows:

Rapid weight loss or “weight cutting” is a dangerous practice that is ubiquitous in modern combat sports yet underrepresented in the medical literature. We present a case of exertional rhabdomyolysis in a mixed martial artist with sickle cell trait in order to illustrate the hazards of weight cutting and ensuing critical illness. Sickle cell trait is known to predispose patients to exertional rhabdomyolysis and multiple fatal cases have been reported in the setting of strenuous exercise. Dehydration and consequent electrolyte abnormalities make combat sport athletes with sickle cell trait particularly vulnerable to this entity. This case suggests a potential role for sickle cell trait screening in this population and underscores the need for safer weight-control practices and monitoring among all combat sport athletes.

Author Erik Magraken is a British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, founder of the Combat Law Sports Blog, and profoundly appreciated UGer.

The athlete in question is presumably Rondel Da’twaun Clark, born May 4, 1991, died August 15, 2017, at the age of 26. Sutton collapsed due to fatigue in the third round at Cage Titans 35 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on August 12, 2017. He was transported to the hospital and died several days later.

A scholarship fund has been set up in his name. You can contribute here.