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Bizarre hot-tub incident forced fighter to pull out of RFA show

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Add this to the list of weird, recent weight-cutting injuries.

Grant Dawson was supposed to make his RFA debut last Friday night, but was forced to pull out two days before due to burns and an infection he got from sitting in a hot tub to cut weight, he told MMA Fighting.

Dawson said he had to be rushed to the emergency room where doctors told him he had first-degree burns and the onset of hot tub folliculitis, which is essentially an inflammation of the hair follicles. The 21-year-old was not able to cut any more weight since he was in the hospital and his team convinced him that fighting fellow undefeated prospect Clayton Wimer at a catchweight was a bad idea considering his condition.

"It was probably the most pain I've felt in my life," Dawson said. "It really felt like something was eating my skin and it was bad."

Dawson (7-0), who trains out of Victory MMA with the likes of James Krause and Tim Elliott, said the issue arose because the hot tub at Prairie Life Fitness in Lincoln, Neb., had an excess amount of chlorine. The Nebraska native said he has cut weight there multiple times before and it was the first time anything like this happened.

"The chlorine levels in the hot tub were way, way beyond what they were supposed to be," Dawson said. "It was so bad ... the people in the steam room were feeling the chlorine in their eyes. That's how bad it was. And we were in it. I was in it up to my neck."

Dawson said the gym agreed to pay for his hospital bills and medication, but he didn't plan on suing them. However, Prairie Life Fitness manager Dan Creamer told MMA Fighting that Dawson's account was "not true at all." Creamer said the gym would not be reimbursing the fighter for his expenses and that Prairie Life was not at fault at all.

Creamer said that Dawson spent an inordinate amount of time in the hot tub and went in while sweating without showering beforehand, which is against the rules.

"All of our chemical levels were fine and everything like that," Creamer said. "There's a reason why you're only supposed to be in the hot tub 10 to 15 minutes -- not two hours."

Dawson said he used the hot tub over the course of three hours in 45-minute intervals. He said his teammate Nate Guillot was also burned by the tub, but competed at RFA anyway because he didn't spend as much time in the water and only went in up to his waist.

With regards to Creamer's response, Dawson told MMA Fighting through a representative that as of late last week there was an agreement in place for the gym to pick up the hospital tab and medication bills. He said his manager Joe Wooster is handling the situation.

Dawson explained the sensation like a "really, really bad sunburn" and said he wasn't able to sleep that night because his stomach, back and groin area were all burned so badly.

The areas are all healing now, though, and Dawson expected to be back training late this week. He didn't sign a multi-fight deal with RFA, but hopes he is brought back sometime next year.

"People know that I'm not a pull-out-of-fights kind of guy," Dawson said. "If it's serious, it's serious. It's not just that I didn't want to fight or I didn't want to cut the rest of the weight.

Currently, Dawson expects to fight on a KCFA show in December. He'd be willing to step in on short notice at another event as quickly as next month, though.

"It's weird," Dawson said. "I almost feel like it's a loss, kind of. I feel weird about the whole situation and I just want to get back in there as fast as possible."

The whole strange scenario just doesn't sit well with him and he hopes it'll somehow be a learning experience.

"It was my first time fighting on TV, so that would have been nice," Dawson said. "It was pretty upsetting. ... We put a lot of hard work into it and a lot of preparation and then just not getting to fight was not ideal. It was pretty tough."