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Cutting the Competition - This Is Sports Zone

When it comes to any sport, gaining an edge can go a long way. For high performance athletes an edge is not only important, it can be a key factor in winning and losing.  Because of this fact athletes can go to great lengths to obtain an edge, and the results can sometimes cause an athlete to go too far to the point where they end up putting themselves at risk.

ajohnsonOne of these edges that can be obtained in sports like MMA is thought of as the art of weight cutting. As funny at it may sound, the way a fighter cuts weigh, and how much weight they cut, can directly result in whether a fighter wins or loses a fight. The goal in a weight cut is to be able to weigh in a small as possible at the official weigh in’s; that are usually the day before the fight, and then be able to raise your weigh as high as you can before stepping into the cage to fight.

The practice of weight cutting has been common place for quite some time in sports like boxing and other combat sports. It has been taught to athletes as a must when it comes to competing. Since many wrestling and other combat sport athletes make the jump to MMA, it is only nature that weigh cutting came with them.

So is weight cutting safe?

The question is a hard one to answer and isn’t as black and white as it seems. Though many MMA athletes cut weight for fights, it would be a shock to know how many of them truly don’t know the risks involved. The fact is fighters that cut weight can face life-threatening illnesses that come from dehydration, which is one of the more common ways fighters chose to cutting weight. We also saw recently that fighters like Renan Barao can push their body to the limit, and in Barao’s case can cause the fighter to pass out due to the weight cut. Some believe that the reason Barao passed out was due to the fighter and his team not truly understanding the safer ways to cut the weight causing them to dehydration the fighter in order to lose the weight. Others believe that it is as simple as how much weight that Barao cuts, and that he needs to move up in weight in order to compete safely.

One of the more famous examples of cutting too much weight can come in the story of MMA fighter Anthony Johnson. Johnson was a very successful fighter who cut to 170 pounds to compete in the UFC’s welterweight division. After struggling at making the weight in multiple fights, Johnson moved up to 185 pound yet he’s still failed to make weight, which ended in his release from the UFC. Johnson knew that he needed to reevaluate his weight cut and this caused him to start fighting closer to his 230 pound natural weight. This reinvigorated Johnson and, without the worry of any big weight cuts he was able to fight his way back in to the UFC and now is one of the top fighters at the 205 pound division.

dolceA story like that has to make you think if cutting the weight is in any way worth the risk but when done right, success can follow. Kenny Florian is a prime example of this. A fighter that originally moved up in weight from 170 to 185 to make The Ultimate Fighter was always talented and it showed when he made the finale of the show. Yet it is hard to argue that when Florian moved down in weight to earn 3 title fights, two at 155 and one at 145, he was always meant to be at the lower weight classes. Other fighters like Hector Lombard and Demetrious Johnson found second chances at low weights. Demetrious is now the 125 champion after failing to claim a title at 135, and Lombard was on his way out of the UFC before dropping to 170 pounds and is now considered one of the top fighters at that weight class.

So back to the question of whether weight cutting safe. One of the top nutritionists in the world of MMA, Mike Dolce, says that with the right method, weight cutting safely is not only possible but can also be a benefit in all facets of a fighter’s life. Dolce has the belief that dieting should be more of a lifestyle then a chore. He believes that if a fighter can change their mind-set and prepare their body months ahead of time, then when it comes down to the time to cut weight a fighter can allow their body to do most of the work. Of course like everything, there are skeptics but you can’t really argue with the results. Dolce has never had a single client not make weigh for a fight. He has also helped fighters not only make weight but has been able to move fighter down to weights that they didn’t even believe was possible.

So in the end weight cutting can be safe but can also be dangerous. What fighters need to understand is that cutting weight is more of a tool than anything else and like all tools, if you use them the wrong way they can be consequences. The fact of the matter is that the advantage of cutting weight is only advantage when a fighter truly knows what their body is capable of.

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