How Do MMA Fighters Cut Weight So Fast?

The days when MMA was an underground sport are long gone. With the enormous popularity of the UFC today, it has become a highly-regulated sport. Unfortunately, without the regulations in place, many fighters will try to work around the rules, and the world of combat fighting is well-known for doping and cheating. 

However, the regulations make cheating or using illegal prescriptions almost impossible. Still, one thing that has the MMA community split is the extreme weight-cutting fighters do before matches. First, they cut weight before weigh-in day, most of which happens the days before the fight. 

So, how do MMA fighters cut weight? Let’s find out!

How Do MMA Fighters Cut Weight?

Source: Primed

MMA fighters cut most weight four to five days before the weigh-in day for their match. The fighters cut weight by:

  1. Dehydrating during the days leading to the weigh-in day.
  2. Removing salt and carbohydrates from their diet. 
  3. Sweating off the excess water.

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Mixed Martial Arts and Weight Cutting

Watching MMA fighters battle it out in the ring is incredibly exciting and the reason why the UFC is now considered a mainstream competition. MMA is among the best fighting styles to help you learn how to defend yourself and build confidence.

However, not everything is as glorious as it sounds!

Due to the limited weight divisions in the competition, most fighters resort to extreme weight cutting.

Even though it is hard on the body, MMA fighters continue to use this strategy since the UFC is unwilling to expand the number of divisions.

In just four to six days, some fighters have been able to dry out 10% to 16% of their body weight in water. Sadly, weight reduction is necessary to create a level playing field for all athletes. It is unrealistic to expect a 115-pound lightweight to compete against a 265-pound heavyweight.

MMA fighters drop an average of 19.5 pounds during the training phase before a weigh-in. But how do MMA fighters cut weight? They use more drastic measures to get rid of their remaining water weight in the days before their weigh-in.

The Weight-Cutting Process 

The gradual weight loss leading up to the fight match for most MMA fighters usually begins about a month before. The weight loss during the month entails the fighters watching what they eat without cheat days in between, meaning no unhealthy meals. 

The MMA fighters also drink a lot of water during this period as they then dehydrate themselves during the four to six days leading up to their weigh-in. The most weight they can lose with a regular diet is around 5-10 pounds. 

However, the biggest amount of weight they lose is during the last week before their match. Two days before the weigh-in, the fighters cut all proteins and only eat digestible foods with no sodium.

During the last 24 hours, they refrain from drinking water, doing cardio, or sitting in a sauna. In other words, the fighters try to sweat as much water as possible.

After the Weigh-In 

The fight starts the day after the weigh-in. However, the MMA competitors will eat a large meal the day before the fight and consume lots of water and electrolytes. Thus, they will step into the ring heavier than they were on the weigh-in day. 

Dangers Associated with Extreme Weight Cutting 

If nutrition and exercise are done gradually throughout the training camp, safe weight loss can be accomplished. Fighters who drastically dehydrate themselves during weight cuts to lose the final few pounds risk fainting or even organ failure.

Most of the time, fighters lack the proper nutritional advisors to help them through this process, which causes them to sustain serious injuries, such as falling into a coma, convulsions, kidney failure, heat stroke, cramping, etc.

Hence, in addition to risking their lives within the octagon, the fighters risk them outside with weight cutting. This risk is why there need to be more weight divisions in MMA. 

Deaths Due to Extreme Weight Cutting 

Two MMA deaths in recent years have been directly related to weight-cutting. Both Yang Jian Bing and Leonardo Souza died before their fights. 

Leonardo Souza died during Shooto Brazil 43 in 2013, and Yang Jian Bing died before his battle with Geje Eustaquio at the ONE Championship in 2015. Since these fighters’ tragic and untimely deaths, extreme weight-cutting has received more attention.

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So, how do MMA fighters cut weight? After carefully reading the article, you have discovered the answer but remember, it is one thing to wonder and another to do yourself.

Weight cutting, as effective as it is for MMA fighters, is also hazardous and should be avoided. 

If you are only looking to get in shape and lose weight, it is better to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

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