Combate reports the women's bantamweight Karol Rosa was hospitalized during the weight cut for fight vs. Sijara Eubanks at UFC on ESPN+ 34 on Saturday night.
UFC vet and ex-Strikeforce champ Sarah Kaufman was game to take the fight on short notice, and Eubanks was in, but Eubanks will now fight Julia Avila at UFC on ESPN+ 35 on September 12, at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Avila has been scheduled to fight Nicco Montano at UFC on ESPN+ 37 on October 3; it is not known if this fight will be canceled.
The culture of extreme weight cutting in MMA is profoundly irrational. In what other sport do you reduce yourself to the point you cannot walk, just one day before you have to reach the highest performance level imaginable? And MMA is a hurting game, where you are trying to traumatize your opponent's brain; weight cutting causes the brain to shrink, so it no longer sits snugly inside the cranium, and is thus subject to more trauma.
Extreme weight cutting is the most dangerous regulatory issue in mixed martial arts, which is already an inherently dangerous sport.
Dehydration is medically 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.
Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, has taken the lead in combatting the practice. He has been gathering data in 2019, and 10% (or 28 out of 285) of MMA fights in California saw one or both fighters weighing over 15% above the contracted weight on fight day. By contrast, in boxing the rate was just 1.6% (or 9 out of 570). To give an example from MMA, this would be a bantamweight (136 non-title limit) weighing more than 155.2 on fight day, or two divisions up. Weight divisions are implemented for fighter health and safety, yet in this pursuit of “safety” a significant percentage of fighters are enduring a potentially fatal level of fluid loss.
In October Foster instituted a new rule that cancels a fight if on fight day a competitor weighed more than 15% over the contracted fight weight. Further, trainers, promoters, matchmakers, and managers, will be responsible for making sure fighters comply with the new rule.
There is the potential now that fighters will not fully rehydrate before a fight, but Foster explained that the aim is to get promoters to match fighters at closer to their natural weight. The alternative for promoters is seeing a bout canceled.
“The only way we can get there is out of fear of a cancellation,” said Foster at the time to Marc Raimondi for ESPN. “I suspect the matchmakers will probably just move the fights up a little bit if they see weights increase just to prevent risks to their promotions.”
Foster would also like promoters to hold more catchweight fights. This is another sensible step, as fans want to watch good fights, not watch fights at any given weight division.
“This is a fixable issue,” said Foster. “Pretending like we’re bound to these weight like they’re set in stone and fighters can’t move up, frankly it’s not healthy.”
Nevada is a leading commission, and needs to adopt Foster's more rational approach to weight cutting. The alternative is doing after a prominent fighter dies.