MMA athletes may put health at risk by using extreme weight loss techniques

ECU School of Medical and Health Sciences PhD candidate Oliver Barley interviewed 637 MMA, boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, Muay Thai/Kickboxing and Taekwondo athletes about their weight cutting techniques.

He found that while weight cutting was prevalent across the different combat sports, MMA athletes were, on average, losing far more weight before fights.

“We found that MMA athletes reported losing an average of 9.8kg before each fight. This compares to 5.3kg for boxing, 4.2kg for Brazilian jiu jitsu and 3.8kg for judo,” he said.

“This equates to MMA athletes losing an average of 11.5 percent of their body weight in the lead up to a fight, compared to an average of about six percent for the other sports.”

Risky methods

Mr Barley said the results also showed that MMA athletes were more likely to use more extreme and potentially dangerous techniques to cut weight.

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