UFC officially supports Foster weight-cutting plan

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The culture of extreme weight cutting has killed multiple fighters and will kill more until it is brought under control. Further, it is causing untold long-term damage to fighter’s health. California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster has a 10-point plan to stop it. Some of the changes are major, like the addition of weight classes at 165, 175, 195 and 225 pounds.

On Tuesday the commission will vote on their ED’s plan. If approved, it will be in effect by UFC 214, which takes place on July 29 in Anaheim, Calif. At the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) annual conference in July, it will be voted on by the membership, with approval from the medical committee.

In a massive step, leading promotions Bellator MMA, Invicta FC, and above all the UFC have formally submitted letters of support.

 

“UFC is encouraged that further steps to assure safe weight management practices, as outlined in CSAC’s ’10-Point Plan’, will result in additional health and safety benefits and positive feedback from promoters and combat athletes and their camps,” wrote UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky, as recorded by Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting.

“UFC also supports the offering of additional weight classes as outlined in CSAC’s ’10-Point Plan.’ UFC recently unveiled the implementation of two new female weight classes at 125 and 145 pounds, respectively, as the global brand now offers competition at four 10-pound increment weight classes. By adding these additional divisions, UFC believes it is providing more weight-specific options for UFC athletes to promote safer weight management goals.

“UFC also anticipates that regional talent, who are regularly scouted and imported to UFC’s roster, will soon be robust enough to support these additional weight classes with world-class talent that will eventually be promoted by the global brand. Further positive steps will include financial deterrents and physician sign-offs on weight class decisions for missing weight on more than one occasion.”

“Similar to the implementation of the morning weigh-ins, UFC hopes that California’s further leadership to insure safe weight management practices as outlined in the ’10­ Point Plan’ will be adopted and implemented by Athletic Commissions throughout the world. UFC looks forward to continuing to work closely with CSA in strengthening health and safety initiatives for combat sport athletes and commends the Commission for its leadership.”

Foster’s last innovation to combat the dangers of extreme weight cutting was early weigh-ins, giving the body longer time to rehydrate. This has been almost universally hailed as positive.

Bellator vice president of business and legal affairs Tracy Lesetar-Smith also supported the changes, but requested gradual implementation.

“We respectfully stress the importance of a slow roll out of any additional weight classes,” she wrote. “Even with these additional weight classes remaining optional for promoters’ adoption, their existence may potentially lead to both (a) internal disputes with fighters/their camps and promoters as to what weight class a fighter should be competing in at direct odds with their contracts, as well as (b) the inevitable dilution of depth in each promoter’s weight classes – depth that promotions like Bellator have fought tooth and nail to build.”

If passed, promotions will have to weigh fighter health and safety against division depth and other business concerns. The choice they make will be telling. Ultimately, the end of extreme weight cutting should be great for the sport. Not only will fighters not die and suffer debilitating internal damage, but performance will go up. Weigh-ins at present are grotesque, in that fighters are brought to a state of near collapse, just a day before engaging in the most extreme physical exertion imaginable. That’s not rational. Foster’s 10-Point Plan represents sanity. Voting against it not so much.