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Should Fighters Who’ve Missed Weight Be Forced To Take Their Next Fight In California?

While forced may be a strong term, when it’s in the interest of fighter safety I’ll take forced over asked any day of the week.

TUF 26 competitor, Sijara Eubanks’ recent weight cutting woes are nothing new to the sport. Weight-cutting issues have always been a prominent part of mixed martial arts. Fighters who are large for the weight can often be seen visibly struggling on the day of weigh-ins, often to the point of emaciation. Some fighters miss that weight completely. In the interest of fighter safety I think a new internal policy implemented by the UFC could shake up the industry and potentially diminish the inherent danger that drastic weight-cutting presents.

In May. 2017, the California State Athletic Commission — CSAC — rolled out a 10-point weight-cutting regulatory policy which took into account many factors which would determine whether fighters were cutting weight healthily. This policy was enforced in the interest of fighter safety and subsequently the state is becoming synonymous with fighter safety, often being referred to as ‘ahead of the curve‘. CSAC’s efforts are certainly ahead of the curve and once CSAC Executive Director, Andy Foster, and CSAC collect enough data they hope that in turn it will provide enough evidence to show other commissions that their policy is making the sport safer. Even Texas, a state historically known to have a bad reputation for the safety of fighters, are already looking into potentially adopting CSAC’s regulatory policy before next year’s annual ABC meeting, where the data will be presented to all current U.S. commissions.

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For the UFC to employ an internal policy which would promote weight-cutting reform it would be fairly simple; Make fighters who have previously missed weight fight under the jurisdiction which has the best weight management regulations.

In CSAC’s weight-cutting regulations some of the key components which would directly impact on a proposed internal UFC policy are:

  • Checks for dehydration and specific gravity testing.
  • Licensing by weight class.
  • Fighters who have missed weight previously will be forced to move up a weight.
  • 30-day and 10-day weigh-in checks to make sure fighters can healthily make the weight in the required time period.

We have even seen this proposed internal policy in action as Renan Barao was booked in California, and rightly so was booked at a more comfortable weight which was less detrimental to his body. Barao had previously missed weight in dramatic fashion and subsequently moved up a division. Barao took a couple of fights at the weight above before eventually making known his intention to move back down a weight class to 135lbs. At a later date Barao was then booked by the UFC to fight in California under the new regulations. In turn this allowed CSAC to autonomously determine what weight would be healthy for Barao to compete at. Ultimately they decided on 140lbs and Barao would go on to weigh-in healthily thanks to the implementation of CSAC’s regulatory policy.

That’s one instance which can be applied broadly to others who have similarly struggled to hit the mark.

Throughout TUF 26 a common theme of the show was how Sijara Eubanks was struggling to make weight. Despite making a series of unhealthy cuts in a transient period, Eubanks would find herself in the finale. Unfortunately for Eubanks the last cut she would make would lead to kidney failure.

First of all, I’m a champion. Point blank. I will be UFC champion, but it’s God’s will that it won’t be Friday night. I’m a gangster and I’ve cut more weight than most male fighters, and unfortunately there were some miscalculations this cut, no excuses, I worked my ass off and went out on my shield. I was hospitalized early this morning for kidney failure but best believe I’ma be right back training and right back after that belt. This game is full of ups and downs, true champs know that and bounce back. Nicco and Roxanne I’m sure will have a great fight, and best wishes to both those ladies. True class, those two. Nothing changes, I’m still the queen and I will claim my throne. Thank you to all my coaches, friends and family and the wonderful staff at UFC. God is good and I am truly blessed. #Repost @ufconfox (@get_repost) ・・・ BREAKING: Sijara Eubanks is OUT. Roxanne Modafferi is IN vs. Nicco Montano for the UFC women’s flyweight title! Who wins now? #TUF26Finale

A post shared by Sijara "SarJ" Eubanks (@sarjncharge) on

On this past Monday’s The MMA Hour, Sijara Eubanks foolishly stated she would be returning to 125lbs, despite the fact she was hospitalised with failing kidneys at her last attempt to make that weight. That’s alarming, inherently dangerous and just plain stupid. Apologies if these words appear harsh but a fighter’s safety is paramount and under no circumstances should Eubanks be allowed to compete at a weight that has just seen her hospitalised.

Under the proposed internal policy the UFC would book Eubanks in California for her next fight, in turn allowing CSAC to determine a healthy weight for Eubanks to compete at, licensing her by division, and using 30 and 10 day weigh-ins, along with a multitude of dehydration and specific gravity tests in the build up. It forces the issue and stops a fighter making another asinine cut.

If the UFC really is invested in fighter safety this should be how they proceed with Eubanks, if not for all fighters who miss weight.

Currently there are no cards booked in California in 2018, although over the past three years the UFC has booked a total of eight events in the state, averaging 2.66 events there per year. This leaves a potential 48 to 72 slots available to use their internal policy accordingly. It’s clearly feasible and it certainly has the ability to make the sport safer.

So should fighters who’ve missed weight be forced to take their next fight in California? I’d say emphatically it’s a yes.

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