Monday, May 11, 2009

Weighing In on Weight Cutting

As is often the case, reading something somewhere else has inspired my thoughts here at K2 for the day.

I read an interesting take on weight cutting in Mixed Martial Arts on MMA Junkie. Basically, the thought put forward by fellow Canadian MMA fan from Ottawa was that reforms to process of making weight need to be made. The writer believes this will lead to fewer fighters gassing, promote healthier fighters all-around and more attention being paid to their skills as mixed martial artists than honing their abilities to cut weight.

The problem - as I see it - is that if you want to institute weight-cutting reforms, than new weight classes need to be introduced universally as well. Fighters don't always walk around fitting into the weight classes that are established and guys like Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin need to cut weight to make the 265 lbs. heavyweight maximum.

While I agree that cutting weight is a somewhat dangerous activity and detrimental to one's long-term health, it's not as if these fighters are going through the process unsupervised and with reckless abandon.

This is something they have been doing for an extended period of time and they know how their bodies react. Managers, trainers and teammates are right there along side of the fighters, presumably, to ensure that making weight never comes at the expense of overall health.

Furthermore, it's not as if anyone is forcing these fighters to fight at the weight they do. Thiago Alves chooses to cut close to 30 pounds to fight at 170 and when he misses weight as he did in the Matt Hughes fight, he forfeits a portion of his prize money. That is the risk he decides to take so that he can be one of the biggest guys in the weight class. He could easily move up to 185 and still be pretty solid, but he picks to cut the weight.

While I would love to see fewer fights like the Mark Coleman - Shogun Rua gas-out fest, that had far more to do with both fighters having an absolute lack of cardio than cutting weight leaving them with no energy.

For the most part, guys in the upper echelon and the top flight organizations know what they are doing and cut weight without any problems.

So long as a fighter can safely make their fighting weight and penalties are in place when someone fails to do so, I don't see a reason for change.

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