The problem of dangerous weight cutting has been under the media microscope ever since Renan Barão and Henry Cejudo’s resulting health complications forced them out of UFC 177. It’s not uncommon for combat sports athletes to strategically compete in a weight class that is lower than their natural body weight to gain a competitive edge. The 24 hour period after the weigh-in and before the fight is used to rehydrate and renourish an athlete that has had to effectively starve themselves of adequate food and water for multiple days. After observing the dangerous effects that this practice can have, the Association of Ringside Physicians released a statement that presented the solution of a same-day weigh-in policy to prevent against dangerous weight cutting measures. Would same-day weigh-ins effectively help combat sports organizations fight against dangerous weight cutting?
A certain amount of weight cutting will inevitably be required for competition in weight-restricted sports. One way or another, when you sign a contract that says you will compete at X weight class, you absolutely have to meet that number. However, without a 24-hour period to recover before a fight, athletes will have to seriously evaluate if they can fight in good health on the same day they make weight. For all the advantages and disadvantages there are to cutting down to fight lighter competitors, going into a fight just hours later dangerously dehydrated and malnourished hardly seems worth the risk. We’ve seen that combat sports athletes are willing to go to any measures to get a competitive edge when it comes to competing in a lighter weight class, but it seems impossible to make it count if you step into the ring withered and dehydrated. Having to make weight on the same day of the fight could prove to be a very effective deterrent to dangerous and unhealthy weight cutting.
For all of the health risks already known about the dangers of weight cutting, it’s quite possible that athletes may chance a same-day weigh-in regardless. Even with all of the extreme dangers it would present to a fighter, it seems inevitable that some athletes would attempt the feat anyway. The result could mean less than adequate performance from fighters in the ring if they’re able to pass official approval to fight in the first place. In addition, a fighter chancing a dangerous weight cut despite a same-day weigh-in could mean huge financial problems for combat sports organizations. Consider the possibility that a fighter makes it to the scale and isn’t approved to fight for a scheduled bout expected to take place just hours later. Even if the organization had fighters available as replacements, every event go-er and pay-per-view buyer would be disenchanted and hesitant to make the same purchase again. Another financial point to consider is how it would affect the current roster of athletes and champions. If a considerable number of athletes have to abandon their weight class (including champions), that would restructure the whole organization. Who knows how many classic rivalries would never play out again because athletes cannot safely compete. However ethical, safe, and fair a same-day weigh-in would be for the athletes and sport, any combat sports organization is going to seriously weigh the financial risks and damages it can bring to their promotion.
Would the practice of same-day weigh-ins ultimately help combat sports organizations? Do you think athletes would take their chances despite the regulation?