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Weight Cutting in MMA

Other than getting repeatedly punched in the face and slammed to the ground, there is an area of Mixed Martial Arts that all competitors dread – cutting weight. Cutting weight is in itself a skill and fighters who agree to compete at a certain weight are expected to make it with failure being seen as unprofessional and showing a lack of commitment. However, rapid weight loss has been associated with possible health risks and studies have shown that rapid weight cutting can lead to both psychological and physiological changes to the athlete. Cutting weight is the practice of rapid weight loss prior to a match or competition normally through dehydration and getting rid of excess water the body holds. Many athletes cut weight safely so as not to damage their health or performance, yet others cut weight far too rapidly leading to long term health problems for short term gain. In professional bouts fighters are given 24 hours to rehydrate before their match, meaning that they can increase their weight by sometimes 20 or 30lbs in 24 hours, leading to an advantage in the ring or octagon. Techniques to cut weight include low level exercise while wearing a sauna suit to increase perspiration, as well as Epsom salt baths, diuretics and decreased water intake. While these methods do rapidly decrease weight, there are also risks associated such as poor performance, elevated heart rate, blood pressure and an increased risk of injury. Extreme dehydration such as when weight cutting puts the body under a massive amount of stress as the body hates to be dehydrated! Dehydration leads to a decrease in performance where even the most routine of tasks can be seen as a massive ordeal! Psychologically weight cutting can lead to decreased concentration, energy and self-esteem as well as a bad temper and depression. Rapidly cutting weight should never be done without the experience of a trained professional and medical supervision, but there are 3 steps you can take to make your weight cut that little bit easier. Eat clean all year round – Staying close to competition weight the whole year will make cutting the extra few pounds a lot easier as well as ensuring you perform at your best. Putting the right fuel in your body for both training and competing is half of the battle and diet can make or break a competition. Gradually cut – Constantly checking your weight and setting small attainable goals will keep you on track with your weight cut. Avoiding water-retaining ingredients such as sodium will help you keep water weight down and get you to fighting weight quicker. Stay hydrated – If you’re training for a competition, you need to stay hydrated simple as that. Dehydration = weakness and so cutting back on water should only happen a few days before the competition and weigh-ins so that you can perform at your best during training and don’t feel weak or fatigued.