In this radio package, I cover the issue of "weight cutting", a trend in Mixed Martial Arts (or MMA), that encourages competitors to experience rapid weight loss. In addition, this project also explores the medical implications of this widespread and dangerous practice and the stories from people with first-hand experience on the matter.
Over the last few decades, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been increasing in popularity. The sport was started to see which form of martial arts was the most effective in defeating an opponent, but in recent years, MMA has evolved into a sport of its own. Now, fighters train in multiple combat sports like kickboxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aiming to master all of them instead of focusing on just one discipline. It is to be expected that engaging and competing in combat sports can lead to injuries. Many may suspect that the injuries take place inside the fighting cage. However, serious danger also lurks on the outside.
In this podcast, I interviewed Trevor Gudde, Tom Egan, and Angelene M. Elliott to explore the issue of weight cutting in the MMA. MMA competitors are categorized into weight classes and sometimes, fighters strive to lose weight to go down a weight class. This can increase their chances of winning or allows them to win championship belts in separate categories. Even in some cases, they do not fit into any existing weight class and need to lose weight to qualify. Fighters that go down a weight class will often go through what is called ‘’weight cutting’’. During the weight cutting process, fighters drink a lot of water the week before the weigh-in and then slowly decrease their water intake to nothing on the last day or two prior to the weigh-in to rapidly lose weight. Twenty-four-hours before the weigh-in, fighters also try to sweat out the last few pounds by taking saunas and hot baths for hours at a time as well as covering themselves in layers of towel, blankets and, or, bedsheets to increase their body temperature to promote weight loss. This has led to various health problems such as headaches, fatigue, kidney failure, strokes, heart problems and in the worst cases this practice has led to death.
I hope that this radio package raises awareness of the dangers of rapid weight cutting, not only in the MMA community but to anyone that might see this, or is doing this, as a quick solution for losing weight.