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Mixed martial arts and the danger of extreme weight cutting

By Christopher Kirk, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology, Sheffield Hallam University
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The sight is well known to all fans of mixed martial arts (MMA). A fighter walks onto a stage on a Friday evening, waving to the cheering crowd before stepping onto a scale. The fighter waits nervously for a few moments as an official checks their weight to see if they’ve qualified for their chosen weight division.

Weigh-ins happen the day before every MMA fight. They’re designed to ensure both competitors are the same size, theoretically making a fair contest. Importantly, this is the only time a fighter’s weight is checked by organisers – meaning they only need to be “on weight” for…

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