Every fighter knows it and every fighter dreads it…the weight cut before a fight. Weight cutting is a reality of fighters that is not pleasant but a necessity. For those of you who don’t know what a weight cut is, it’s basically getting down from your normal “walking around” weight to your fighting weight. For example, a male may walk around at 190 lbs. but fight at 170 lbs. I as a female walk around at approximately 178, and my fighting weight is 155. The goal is to shed those extra pounds before weigh in. Each fighter has different ways of weight cutting, but for females it is a more difficult process.
Females face a lot of barriers in regards to MMA, and weight cutting is one of them. The female body is different from a male. Males have the ability to have a higher resting metabolism because of testosterone. Testosterone also gives them the ability to build muscle, which in turn burns more calories. Women also have more fat stored in their body, as well as water weight, so water loading and dehydration does not work for all females.
Weight cutting has been a hot button issue in WMMA. Chris Cyborg has had issues making weight, which she claimed was due to her period. This is a valid point due to the fact that females retain water during this time. Another female who has had issues making weight is Gina Carano, who has had several occasions where she seemed very dehydrated, yet due to water retention she was still four pounds over the limit.
Ultimately, as fighters continue to face difficulties in making weight, there has to be a better way. Whether it is to contract a fight closer to your “walking weight,” or making sure you can safely get down to the weight prior to accepting a fight, something needs to be done. It is very costly to not make weight on the professional level, and it is something not taken lightly by the promotions. This issue can be easily avoided if female fighters could get this aspect of fighting down to a science like the male fighters have. Our body makeup is different, and that means methodology of the weight cut needs to change for females.