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Bellator's Scott Coker: Early weigh-in format 'the future of MMA'

Esther Lin, Showtime Sports

The first major promotion to experiment with the new, early weigh-in format is committed to it moving forward.

Bellator will use an earlier weigh-in next week for its Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 event in St. Louis, MMA Fighting confirmed Friday with officials. Bellator has now had earlier weigh-ins at three different events: in Kansas, at Mohegan Sun and Friday in Fresno, Calif.

Bellator 150 in Kansas back in February was the first event that a commission and promotion tried out the rapidly expanding procedure, with great success.

"Here at Bellator, we are always looking to adapt and willing to embrace change within the sport of MMA, especially if it is beneficial for our world-class athletes," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement. "After the success we experienced during the sport's first-ever early weigh-in at 'Bellator 150: Kongo vs. Spartan' in Kansas, it became obvious that this practice is not only the future of MMA, but is a simple change that's making weight cutting safer."

The idea was first broached by doctors at a weight-cutting summit in December in Los Angeles. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) voted to implement it soon after. Using CSAC's model, Kansas and Mohegan Sun were the first to institute it at Bellator events. The UFC attempted it for the first time at UFC 199 earlier this month and brought it to Ottawa this weekend.

Rather than fighters weighing in at the standard time of 4 or 5 p.m. the day before the fight, the new process allows them to hit the scale in the morning. The athletes competing at Dynamite 2 will be able to weigh-in between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. the day before the fights, MMA Fighting confirmed Friday with Missouri Office of Athletics director Tim Lueckenhoff.

Doctors are in favor of this, because it gives fighters more time to rehydrate after their weight cut and before the fight. Fighters also don't have to spend hours dehydrated like previously, because all they have to do is go downstairs at the fighter hotel and step on a scale, instead of waiting for a weigh-in show to begin.

The greatest danger when it comes to weight cutting, doctors have said, is the fact that the brain cannot fully rehydrate in just 24 hours. A brain without essential fluids is more susceptible to injury. CSAC has also added more stringent examinations for hydration and specific gravity testing to ensure fighters do not enter the cage dehydrated.

The reaction from fighters to this new procedure has been unanimously positive. Michael Chandler, who is facing Patricky Freire at Dynamite 2 for the vacant Bellator lightweight title, took to Twitter on Friday to express his pleasure with the decision.

Next week, the Nevada Athletic Commission, the most influential commission in the country, will vote on whether or not to adopt this potential practice in its state. The UFC will be presenting at the commission meeting in favor of the earlier weigh-in. Bellator, the first promotion to make try it out, is clearly on board as well.

"Mr. Andy Foster of CSAC, along with [Association of Boxing Commission president] Mike Mazzulli and other forward thinking athletic commissions around the U.S. deserve much praise for implementing the process and Bellator is proud to continue to be at the forefront of the early weigh-in movement," Coker said.

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