With the ongoing problems of weight cutting in MMA the question remains if we can limit, regulate, or end it completely. On Friday, we saw a brutal weight cut on the biggest stage as Kevin Lee told the media he weighed 19 pounds over 155-pound weight limit less than 24 hours before weigh-ins. We also saw this weekend in Japan, where a fighter had to be assisted while walking to the scale to weigh in and was allowed to compete the next day.
In the past, we have seen weight issues result in fights being removed from cards. From a business sense, weight cutting is hurting the business when fighters are missing weight, or when they are making weight are depleted from the weight cut, resulting in not their best possible performance. Also, the UFC in particular, has been doing so many interim title fights to market that there is a title fight on the marquee. With the addition of more weight classes, there would be more champions to put on top of the pay-per-view and they would not have to use interim titles unless it was completely necessary. From a fighter’s health standpoint, it is definitely not healthy to be draining ten plus pounds of water out of your body. It is definitely not healthy to lose ten plus pounds of water a day before taking blows to the brain.
The next obvious question is, so what is the solution? Well, there is no simple answer to solving this epidemic in MMA. The problem is you are not going to be able to just tell the fighters to stop weight cutting because fighters are always going to do anything possible that they think will give them an advantage over their opponent. The first step to possibly help is adopting the new weight classes mentioned in the California State Athletic Commissions 10 point plan. This would move welterweight to 175 pounds and would add a 165-pound class. In addition, there would be a 195-pound weight class added in between the 20-pound gap of 185 and 205 pounds.
Other than the added weight classes, another solution is to periodically do weight checks throughout the training camp leading up to the fight. Boxing tends to do this for big fights and in boxing weight cutting does not seem to be as prevalent as it is in MMA. Throughout the Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones fight back in July they checked the fighters weights and had stricter weight and drug testing regulations than most fights and things seemed to go smooth.
One last possible solution that I think would help limit the weight cutting issue in MMA is a bigger punishment for missing weight. Currently, the punishment is 20 percent of your purse taken away. With a harsher punishment, this could help limit the large weight cuts because it would be a huge risk to lose something even more significant than 20 percent, like half your purse.
Ultimately, weight cutting is going to be involved in MMA regardless, it is just inevitable. Fighters will always try to get what they think is a competitive advantage over their opponents. I feel like something has to be done or else one day soon someone’s going to have major health effects from making or trying to make a weight. Unfortunately, as in everything in life, usually, changes don’t come until after something bad happens. Hopefully, changes come soon in regards to weight cutting because not only is it the safer option, but it makes sense business wise.