Weight cutting is the practice of fast weight loss prior to a sporting competition. It most frequently happens in order to qualify for a lower weight class or to meet the maximum weight limit in the heaviest weight class if one exists (usually in combat sports or rowing, where weight is a significant advantage) or in sports where it is advantageous to weigh as little as possible (most notably equestrian sports). There are two types of weight cutting: one method is to lose weight in the form of fat and muscle in the weeks prior to an event; the other is to lose weight in the form of water in the final days before competition. Common methods to cut weight include restricting food intake, water-loading, and perspiration through exercise, wearing a sweatsuit, and/or sitting in a sauna.[1]

Nutritional experts rarely give advice on how to cut weight safely or effectively, and recommend against cutting weight.[2] However, many athletes choose to do it because they wish to gain an advantage in their sport.

Weight cutting in combat sports


Weight cutting has been known as "dangerous" when losing large amounts of weight in a short period of time, by using sauna, wearing sweat suit, severe dehydration, "water loading", etc.[3][4]

In December 2015, 21-year-old Chinese mixed martial artist Yang Jian Bing died due to dehydration when weight-cutting for a fight put on by Singapore-based ONE Championship.[5] ONE Championship banned weight-cutting by dehydration later that month and now holds fights based on a competitor's "walking weight", rather than pre-fight weigh-ins.[6] The promotion's revised policy on weight mandates that athletes are monitored in their training camps, and have urine specific gravity tests to ensure they are hydrated up to three hours ahead of their bouts. The new system has been well-received by athletes and other stakeholders in the MMA industry.[7][8][9][10] This new implementation puts a greater emphasis on safety which is beneficial for the competing athletes.

In March 2016 Scottish Muay Thai fighter Jordan Coe died in Thailand when he was trying to cut weight for a fight.[11] In November 2017 Australian Jessica Lindsay died after extreme weight cutting for Muay Thai fight in Perth, WA.[12]

Belfast-born acute care physician Paddy Golden has warned the Combat Sports Commission in Western Australia about the risks of weight cutting.[13] In December 2017, Golden stated that putting one's body through acute water loss was "very dangerous", and called for measures to tackle it across Australia.[14] In June 2018 Dr Golden stated that unless regulation is put in place to stop extreme weight cutting deaths were "inevitable".[15][16] At the end of 2017, it was reported that Golden had called for athletes to undergo hydration tests, which would dictate whether they should be allowed to participate in bouts.[17]

Some state athletic commissions have suspended fighters who have been caught cutting weight in an unhealthy manner. For instance, the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation suspended Adam Piccolotti for six months after he posted a video of himself vomiting in an attempt to cut weight prior to Bellator 274; he was also fined $2,500, although the outcome of the match was not overturned.[18]



In addition to improving performance through healthy eating, some athletes will seek to lose weight through dieting and aerobic exercise. By losing fat they hope to achieve a higher "strength-to-mass ratio" or "lean weight." This means more muscle and less fat, and should theoretically give them an advantage against other athletes of the same weight. Dieting is a common way for combat athletes to lower their weight in order to make their desired weight class.

See also



  1. ^ Park, Sungjun; Alencar, Michelle; Sassone, John; Madrigal, Leilani; Ede, Alison (2019). "Self-reported methods of weight cutting in professional mixed-martial artists: How much are they losing and who is advising them?". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 16 (1): 52. doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0320-9. PMC 6849211. PMID 31718652.
  2. ^ Sundgot-Borgen, Jorunn; Meyer, Nanna L.; Lohman, Timothy G.; Ackland, Timothy R.; Maughan, Ronald J.; Stewart, Arthur D.; Müller, Wolfram (2013-11-01). "How to minimise the health risks to athletes who compete in weight-sensitive sports review and position statement on behalf of the Ad Hoc Research Working Group on Body Composition, Health and Performance, under the auspices of the IOC Medical Commission". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 47 (16): 1012–1022. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092966. ISSN 0306-3674. PMID 24115480.
  3. ^ Kirk, Christopher. "Is weight cutting dangerous? What one controversial sport gets wrong". Inverse.
  4. ^ Carthy, Callum (21 September 2018). "Weight Cutting in Combat Sports: What is it, and what are the dangers?". Express.co.uk.
  5. ^ Thomas, Luke (11 December 2015). "ONE Championship fighter dies after weight cut". MMA Fighting.
  6. ^ "Say Goodbye To Weight Cutting By Dehydration". MMAmania.com. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Ben Askren says ONE Championship weight-cutting changes have been "a long time coming"". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  8. ^ Raimondi, Marc (29 March 2019). "Eddie Alvarez opens up on ONE debut, not cutting weight, UFC's leverage tactics, Conor McGregor's retirement, more". MMA Fighting.
  9. ^ "With current focus on weight-cutting solutions, veteran manager believes ONE Championship may have answers". MMAjunkie. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ Ordoñez, Milan (27 April 2019). "Rogan: UFC should've adopted ONE FC's weight cut policy a long time ago". Bloody Elbow.
  11. ^ Donohoe, Graeme (2 April 2017). "Tragic Scots fighter talks of Thai boxing weight-loss torture in haunting video". Daily Record.
  12. ^ "Teenager was trying to lose 8kg in seven days for Muay Thai fight when she collapsed and died". ABC News. 10 March 2020.
  13. ^ "'She sacrificed her life': Weight cutting in combat sports". The New Daily. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  14. ^ Campbell, Kate (9 December 2017). "'The sense of loss is just overwhelming'". PerthNow. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  15. ^ Dawes, Samantha (1 July 2018). "'She sacrificed her life for two kilos': Mother warns of weight cutting in sport". ABC News.
  16. ^ Shannon, Hampton (13 March 2020). "Fight doctor slams Muay Thai weight-cutting". The West Australian. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Aussie teen dies from intense workout regime". Newshub. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  18. ^ Lee, Alexander K. (2022-02-23). "Adam Piccolotti suspended after sharing video that shows him vomiting during Bellator 274 weight cut". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 2022-12-07.