On pretty much every MMA web forum in the whole wide world, right this very minute, there are 3 threads about cutting weight. Someone will tell the story about how X guy cuts 40lbs the night before a weigh in, and someone else will counter with how Frankie Edgar doesn’t cut weight at all, and he’s UFC champ, so it must be right. It’s yet another detail about MMA that gets far too much focus.
You see on the internet, MMA is all about razzmatazz, about mohawks and tattoos. It’s about tee shirts with skulls and gothic script on them, and weight cutting and who is on PEDs and who isn’t and who cuts what amount of weight and who talked “smack” about who and when. It’s basically Eastenders for men to some. They’d deny that, but it’s true. It’s a bit like those guys who are only really interested in football around transfer window time. Sure, they like the game a bit, but it’s much more exciting to talk about who paid what for who, and ask “is he worth it though?”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. Armchair fans buy the merchandise which allows the top end of the sport to flourish. I wish they’d get off their arses a bit more and support the local scene, but when I say that I always sound like a League of Ireland fan, which I suppose finishes the football analogy well. The irritating thing for coaches is that topics like weight cutting get far too much attention. Sure, it’s a part of the sport but it’s as much a part as taping your hands properly is for example, and not even close to being as important as how to eat properly, or how to rest properly, or how to recover properly after training.
You’ll note that I didn’t even come close to mentioning anything to do with the actual skill and technique required to “play” the sport of MMA. And that’s just the point. People, and I include some of my own guys in this, are focused on the wrong things, and if they’re not, then they’re distracted by the wrong things. Weight cutting is just one of the many things that the internet assures us is one of the most important things in fighting, which means that when you should be concentrating on how to keep someone controlled against the fence, you’re also thinking in some remote corner of your brain, maybe underneath your conscious mind, “how big will he be? how big should I be? Should I drop a weight class? Should I cut water overnight or diet?”
I know a lot of amateur fighters and I get to see a lot of amateur fights. Far more than professional ones. What I see are guys who have a lot to work on. That’s not a criticism per se, that’s just a statement of fact regarding the level I see the most. I’m also friends with a lot of these guys on facebook, or I see them post on the internet a lot, and one of the most irritating things I see is someone posting how it was “the weight” that got them and how they’ll be dropping to light/feather/bantam next, when I’ve seen the fight and know that it was clearly not the weight, but the inability to finish the guillotine they had, or their inability to check leg kicks properly, or their poor clinch game. The other one is hearing about how a fighter struggled to make weight, and then when they walk into the ring they’re carrying 4kgs of flab. What this tells me is that this guy didn’t have the discipline to look after his diet, and that the last thing he should have been worrying about was the sauna.
The other thing that can’t be discounted is the “oh yeah well I cut X amount” factor of guys trying to outdo each other. I suppose it’s cool to be the guy who cuts the most weight. Given the lack of knowledge about diet and hydration generally out there, I’d say in many cases it borders on dangerous. I’ve cut big weight twice. I walked around at 76kgs and cut to 70kg to box once. I had a good round and 2 bad rounds and only being marginally less terrible than my opponent saved me in the end. Then I cut from 79kgs to 75kgs for a same day weigh in, which isn’t a large cut by any stretch, but for a same day it was exhausting. That actually worked out well thanks to good preparation for rehydration and refeeding. Whenever I’ve fought, and this is my advice to any amateur looking to fight too, I’ve tried to maintain a healthy diet that supports fat loss right up to the day of weigh in, and maintain a walk around weight of about 81kgs to fight at 77kgs. The 4kgs I can lose, knowing my own body, overnight without use of the sauna and with just some moderate exercise on the morning of the weigh in. I superhydrate in the days beforehand and I’m only hungry and extremely thirsty before weighing in. However I would say that know yourself and your body. 4kgs for a 57kg fighter can be an awful lot as he has less water to lose. Equally, a less muscular fighter will not be able to cut as much water weight as a more muscular one, so know your bodyfat levels.
Finally this week- my back.
Avid followers of my blog will know that I am currently out of action and of the mats. I have been like this for 4 weeks now. Here’s the craic. I’ve always had a bad back for about as long as I can remember. There’s been a sharp pain in my mid back during clinch work for as long as I’ve been clinching, but with regular strength and conditioning for my mid back I’ve managed to keep it at bay for the most part. But I don’t really remember not having some degree of pain or discomfort there at this stage. So finally, it turns out I have a nerve impingement in and around C7/T1. The excellent physio I have diagnosed me within about 3 minutes with a problem I’ve been having most of my adult life. He was pretty surprised I didn’t bother to tell him about it on my last visit mind you… 3 years ago. As he’s been working on the problem, mobility in my back has improved, but the pain has become more intense and I’ve begun experiencing pain in my thorax, in my lower back, in my hip… pretty much everywhere on my left side. Today we had a long chat about it and the running theory at the moment is that since we’ve discovered about 5 of my ribs on the left side are displaced, and since I have a dysfunctional left SI joint, and since I have some back issues on my left side, and since my left shoulder is being held together by the anatomical version of duct tape, that the increased mobility in my neck that he’s given me has awakened all of the underlying issues with my left side. So I have a lot of work to do, but despite the gloomy news and the pain, I actually feel a little better for knowing that the past 5-7 years of aches and pains have not just been in my head. One worries about one’s sanity sometimes.
See you on the mat… sooner rather than later hopefully