Association Of Ringside Physicians Says Weight Cutting In MMA Could Be Hazardous To Fighters Health

The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) has released statement that called for state athletic commissions to adopt new guidelines to monitor weight cutting in professional combat sports, including mixed martial arts (MMA).

According to the statement, weight cutting is a potentially hazardous process that should be closely regulated to ensure fighter safety.

The ARP’s statement is as follows:

There is a growing body of information in the medical literature that presents unequivocal evidence of the danger of excessive weight loss, rapid weight loss and repeated cycling of weight gain and loss. Rapid weight loss and dehydration have been proven to negatively affect a number of health-related parameters including: physical performance, cardiovascular function, temperature regulation, hormonal balance, nutritional status, neurologic function, mental performance, and energy utilization. These may cause life-threatening muscle breakdown, shock, heat illness, kidney failure, and electrolyte imbalances, in addition to placing the athlete at increased injury risk. Additionally, the possible relationship between dehydration and predisposition to concussion requires more investigation. Significant dehydration also puts the athlete at risk of improper rehydration techniques — when, in reality, proper re-hydration requires hours to days. The prevalence of these problems is significant. One recent study found that 39 percent of MMA fighters were entering competition in a dehydrated state. Many cases of dehydrated athletes using intravenous fluids to re-hydrate after weigh-ins have been reported – considered a doping violation with several international organizations. Heat illness and death in athletes have been previously documented in the sports of wrestling and MMA. Weight management regulations for boxing/MMA competitors are warranted to mitigate improper weight loss techniques contributing to severe dehydration and starvation and their complications. A number of organizations including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have adopted rules to minimize unhealthy weight loss in weight-classified sports. The rules emphasize hydration and body composition assessment to identify an individual’s proper weight class, and provide a safe, gradual, weekly weight control plan (gain or loss) to achieve same if desired. The new regulations were subsequently investigated for their effectiveness and were reported to be successful by minimizing unhealthy weight loss, excessive weight fluctuations and competition at weight classes inappropriate for a given athlete. It is noted that the effectiveness and success of protocols such as same day weigh-ins are directly tied to proper weight management programs.

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