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Mike Dolce blames coaches for fighters missing weight since start of early weigh-ins

Johny Hendricks missed weight before his UFC 207 fight with Neil Magny.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Exponentially more fighters have missed weight in the UFC since early weigh-ins began last June. Mike Dolce believes he knows why.

The high-profile MMA nutrition coach, who has worked with the likes of Ronda Rousey and Chael Sonnen, blames his coaching peers for not adapting to the new time to weigh-in, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

“It’s lack of credible coaching, lack of credible oversight,” Dolce said. “They’re not working with teams that are not truly skilled in proper nutrition, medical nutrition, therapy and weight management. We know exactly what time we have to weigh in. We know that months in advance.”

Between Jan. 1, 2016 and June 3, 2016, before the advent of the earlier weigh-ins, only one UFC fighter missed weight. Since then, more than 20 have either missed weight or not made it to the scale due to weight-cutting issues. No one seems to have a firm handle on why that is, other than the fact that fighters have not properly adjusted to the new time. Dolce doesn’t see any good reason for that being the case.

“There’s no excuse for that,” he said.

The earlier weigh-ins were first put into effect early last year by Kansas and then Mohegan Sun for two Bellator shows. The idea was broached at a California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) weight-cutting and dehydration summit in December 2015. The format is setup to give fighters more time to rehydrate before the fight, following the common practice of dehydrating to make weight.

A byproduct has been that fighters are also spending less time severely dehydrated since early weigh-ins take place in the fighter hotel, rather than athletes having to be shuttled to the fight venue.

CSAC passed state legislation to allow morning weigh-ins ahead of UFC 199 on June 4. That has been the norm in the UFC, Bellator, Invicta FC and other promotions ever since.

Though more fighters are missing weight, early weigh-ins are not the problem, Dolce said.

“I love the early weigh-ins only because it allows the athlete more time to rehydrate, which all credible data shows protects their health, their longevity,” he said. “It allows the cerebral spinal fluid more time to replenish. We didn’t have that opportunity [before]. Truly, a 48-hour weigh-in would be ideal. I don’t know that that will ever happen, but this is a step in the right direction if we’re truly talking about the health and the safety of the athlete.”

The common criticism of allowing more time to rehydrate is that it could give fighters incentive to cut even more weight. Dolce does not think that has been the case at all.

“That’s not true, simply because the athlete can’t cut more weight,” Dolce said. “I believe the athletes are already cutting too much weight as it is. Having a greater amount of time to rehydrate is not going to let them cut more weight, it’s simply going to allow them to be healthy when they step into the Octagon.”

Regulators and doctors believe weight-cutting through the practice of severe dehydration is one of the biggest problems facing MMA. Dolce bashed coaches who put their athletes in a sauna before the weigh-ins to sweat out more weight. Johny Hendricks and Neil Magny were both in the sauna before their UFC 207 weigh-in and Hendricks, who formerly worked with Dolce, missed weight by 2 12 pounds.

“The fact that athletes are still locking themselves in f*cking — pardon my language — in 180-degree saunas is ridiculous,” Dolce said. “It is the most barbaric method of weight cutting known to man and the athlete is the one that suffers — not the coach who’s standing outside drinking a Coca-Cola and eating a cheeseburger.

“They’re tough already. You don’t have to prove they’re tough by locking them in an oven. We don’t do that.”

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