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ONE Championship announces new weigh-in program following fighter’s death

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ONE Championship

ONE Championship will hold 24 events in 2016, and has announced some changes before the first card of the year in January.

Twelve days after the death of Yang Jian Bing, who died while attempting to cut weight for a flyweight bout with Geje Eustaquio at ONE Championship 35, the promotion announced a new weigh-in program which bans weight-cutting by dehydration. Under the new program, fighters will have to weigh-in several times before and during fight week, including three hours before the event.

With the change, ONE Championship fighters "will now compete at their ‘walking-weight’, which will be determined by a robust system that will track his/her weight on a regular basis throughout the period that the athlete is contracted to ONE".

"ONE Championship has paved the way for MMA in Asia and we have always been at the forefront of innovation for the sport," ONE CEO Victor Cui stated in a release. "By banning weight cutting by dehydration, we are leading the way globally for enhanced safety standards for professional MMA athletes. We believe that through the implementation of this new weigh-in program, our fighters will enjoy a safer and healthier life inside and outside of the cage. I invite the other two major global MMA organizations, Bellator and UFC, to follow in our footsteps to protect athletes and to eliminate the process of weight cutting by dehydration."

Rich Franklin, former UFC middleweight champion and current vice president of ONE Championship, approves the new system.

"Today I'm proud to have been involved with developing the new weigh-in program for ONE athletes," Franklin said. "As a former MMA champion, I've been through the process of weight-cutting by dehydration countless times and I know first-hand how it affects an athlete physically. I personally understand the importance of safety and competing at your very best as a professional MMA athlete and after reviewing the new regulations and policies governing the weigh-in procedures and contracted weight limits, this new program does both for our athletes."

The program is as follows:

GENERAL REGULATIONS & POLICIES

RELATED TO ATHLETES’ WEIGHT

1. Athletes must submit their current walking weight and daily training weight regularly. Athletes will input and track their daily weight online via a dedicated web portal. Athletes may input data weekly but must include daily weights.

2. Athletes will be assigned to their weight class based on collated data and random weight checks. Athletes are not allowed to drop a weight class when less than 8 weeks out from an event.

3. During fight week, weights are checked daily. Urine specific gravity will also be checked the day after arrival and 3 hours prior to the event.  Athletes must be within their weight class and pass specific gravity hydration tests all week and up to 3 hours before the event.  If an athlete falls outside the weight, or fails a test, they are disqualified from the event.  Doctors may request additional testing at their discretion.

4. Catch weight bouts are allowed. However, the athlete with the higher weight will not be heavier than 105% of the lighter opponent’s weight.

5. ONE will conduct random weight checks on athletes at our discretion.

6. Athletes may petition to change weight classes outside of the 8-week competition zone and must be within their new desired weight at that time. In addition, athletes must pass a specific gravity urine test when their weight is within the limits of the newly petitioned weight class. ONE doctors can request additional testing to determine the amount of weight drop allowed over a specific time.

7. The usage of IVs for the purpose of rehydration will not be allowed.

Overage and limits of weight reduction:

· 3 weeks to event day: Athlete must be within contracted weight class

· 4 weeks: 1.5% bodyweight over max

· 5 weeks: 3%

· 6 weeks: 4.5%

· 7 weeks: 6%

· 8 weeks: +6% max over.

(ONE Chief Doctor may approve up to +/- 0.5% maximum error in any weekly weight check)

Matt Hume, vice president of operations & competition of ONE Championship, who joined Dr. Warren Wang, Dr. James Okamoto, Richard Auty and Vaughn Anderson to create the program, believes this is the best solution to fix the problem with weigh-ins in combat sports.

"The safety of our athletes is the top priority of ONE," Hume said. "After bringing in top medical officials from both the USA and Asia, we believe we have put together the best possible weigh-in program in combat sports. This program will revolutionize the way weigh-ins are conducted around the world and we look forward to the positive outcome it will have on safety standards related to weight-cutting globally."

The first ONE Championship event under the new program takes place Jan. 23 in Changsa, China.