The Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) will be testing out a new format for mixed martial arts weigh-ins next month, MMA Fighting has learned.
At Bellator 150, fighters will be given the option to weigh-in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the day before the fight -- six hours prior to the typical 4 p.m. weigh-in start time. The idea is to give fighters more time to rehydrate after their weight cuts. It was first broached last month at the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) weight-cutting summit.
If a fighter does not want to weigh-in between 10 and 2, he or she can still do it during the regular, 4 p.m. weigh-in. Per KAC rule, if a fighter misses weight during any of those periods of time, he or she will still have two hours from that point to attempt to make the contracted limit.
KAC head Adam Roorbach will be in a room at the fighter hotel during those hours overseeing the protocol. When a fighter wants to officially weigh-in, he or she will announce it to Roorbach. Then, Roorbach will contact the opponent's team to give them the option to watch while the fighter weighs in.
Bellator's 4 p.m. weigh-in, which airs on the promotion's website, would not be the commission's official weigh-in for the fighters who already hit the scale between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Cory Schafer, Bellator's director of regulatory affairs, said it was important to give fighters a choice to do things a new way, rather than just outright altering the rules.
"We're not changing it," Schafer said. "We're offering them another option. They can do it exactly the way they're accustomed to."
At the CSAC summit, Association of Ringside Physicians vice president Dr. Edmund Ayoub said that the more time in between weigh-ins and the fight, the better it is for the athlete considering the practice of extreme weight-cutting. When a fighter enters into the cage dehydrated, he or she is more susceptible to concussions, brain trauma and being knocked out, Ayoub said. Ayoub also said that the more weight a fighter cuts, the more his or her performance can suffer.
Roorbach said he came to the decision to try this new procedure after talking with CSAC executive officer Andy Foster and Sean Wheelock, a KAC commissioner and chair of the Association of Boxing Commissions' MMA rules and regulations committee.
"Weight cutting is such a big problem in the industry," said Roorbach, whose background is as a college softball coach. "Not being from the industry, you just come in and you look around and you go, 'What in the world is going?' Something bad is going to happen at some point. Bad things have already happened and I think we're going to see it increase unless we do something about it."
Schafer attended the summit in Los Angeles and said he only did so because he felt like weight cutting was a serious issue facing the sport. Schafer said Bellator executives had no problem being proactive and allowing the KAC to use the event as a test subject.
"There's a problem," Schafer said. "I didn't spend the week before Christmas in LA because there wasn't a problem. ... We need to allow ourselves to get the information to see if we can improve the situation."
Foster will present to his commission two new rules, banning IVs for rehydration and extending the period of time in between weigh-ins and the fight, at CSAC's next meeting, he said.
"It's important to give the fighters all the time we can to rehydrate properly," Foster said. "This is one of the positive things that came out of our summit meeting."
Bellator 150 is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between champion Marcos Galvao and Eduardo Dantas. Also on the card, Kansas native David Rickels takes on Bobby Cooper. The event takes place at Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, just outside Wichita.
One criticism of this method if it becomes standard practice is that fighters might be inclined to cut even more weight or even drop a weight class if they have more time to rehydrate. Foster isn't sure that would happen since most fighters are already cutting the most physically possible they can. But there are surely no easy fixes to the problem of extreme weight cutting.
"Part of the challenge is every single potential solution can also be a potential to make the situation worse," Schafer said. "That's what's troubling about it."