How Do MMA Fighters Cut Weight Before a Fight?

When trying to gain an advantage over the opposition, MMA fighters will search around for methods that will increase their chances of winning – whether it’s within the rules or not. One of the most effective ways of gaining a competitive edge legally, however, is weight cutting.

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What is weight cutting?

For the uninitiated, cutting weight is the process of boiling down to an agreed weight class, even though the fighter is naturally heavier than the limit. Yet all they need to do is stay at the limit for the weigh-in. In some cases, they might only be within the weight class for an hour or even minutes.

What are the pros behind doing a cut? Well a competitor can gain a considerable weight boost from the weigh-in to fight time. It’s not uncommon to see fighters gain upwards of 20lbs or more in that timeframe. This added mass will then help in a physical sense, giving extra strength, durability and size. Although due to it being a standard process in the current MMA world, it’s more a case of leveling the playing field.

How the cut is done

First of all, it is important for competitors to stick to a healthy diet. This means cutting out carbohydrates, avoiding sugar, and consuming meals with ample protein and vegetables. While it goes without saying, the quantity of food also has to be finely balanced.

Despite advice pointing towards a slow and steady weight cut, this isn’t the usual approach taken by MMA fighters. In the days leading up to their bout, water consumption will be strategically decreased. This is because dropping weight fast revolves around manipulating water levels (as well as sodium levels). To further aid the decrease of water in the body, performers will often take hot baths and utilize saunas to sweat out those last drops.

Once the cut has been done and the fighter has successfully weighed in, it’s all about gaining as much weight as possible in the subsequent 24 hours. Loading up on carbs and drinking plenty of fluids are the main aims. Furthermore, it is advised to add salt to all food eaten. The reason for this is that salt contains sodium, and sodium assists in the body retaining water.

The dangers of weight cutting

If you frequent MMA news websites, you will have likely come across articles detailing how a fighter has suffered from a dangerous weight cut. As the cut revolves around dehydration, this can have adverse effects on a competitor. Not only can it result in lightheadedness and fatigue, but also hinder the overall function of the brain. In extreme cases, fighters can even suffer from temporarily losing consciousness and damaging their internal organs.

Even with these known dangers, weight cutting is a practice that isn’t going anywhere soon.