To match the weight of the tournament, MMA fighters must take extremely extreme weight loss measures. Many athletes have died in the process of weighing, just because they are desperate to fight.
Dean Garnett is a “chicken” MMA fighter. In general martial arts, chicken class is calculated from 57.2 to 61.2 kg. At the age of 28, Dean is significantly heavier than this weight class. Therefore, if he wants to keep his competitive advantage in the familiar class, he must always find a way to reduce his weight to below 61.2 kg.
It makes Dean’s pre-tournament time always a time-consuming race. There were times when he had to risk his life to squeeze weight from 69kg to 61.8kg. It all happened within 1 day. Exactly 19 hours, more than 7 kg, equivalent to 10% of weight, were removed from Dean’s body. The story is recorded by the TV series “Extraordinary Bodies”, on BBC News channel.
For a MMA fighter, the process of squeezing weight is sometimes even more dangerous than matches. Many boxers even died while trying to lose weight under extreme methods. Dean, himself, not only placed himself in medical risks, but also had a tremendous mental torture process. He was obsessed with the numbers on the scale. The obsession was so great that, every time he went to pee, Dean accurately measured the amount of water he had just excreted from his body.
All of the smallest numbers, during this time of pressing, also became meaningful. Dean knew he was putting himself in dangerous pressures. But he thought that the competition law was the one to blame.
“If there is more weight, the weighting process will not be worth making documentary films”, Dean said. “I only hope one thing, it will not take away the lives of many martial artists. People still ask why do you have to do so? But if you think you can make millions when you win, you also want to be the best fighter ”.
Dean’s weight pressing process is under the medical supervision of Phil Turner, master’s graduate student and Ben Crighton, a doctoral student, at St John Moore University Liverpool. At the end of 24 hours of extreme weight loss, Dean passed the weight test. After that, he had to receive water and fuel for his body, to get ready for the upcoming war. All 8kg of weight is taken back in a very short time.
The final match ends with a draw. With Dean, it means he can return to normal eating again. “Suddenly, your match is over and you tell yourself that there is a month to eat comfortably. And then the truth is, you’ve eaten everything to face another deadly pressure”. Dean said. Knowing that, but he did not care much about this effect of weight loss. There are irresistible appetite and it creates a vicious cycle.
Dean remembers the first time he came to the ring, after that match, from 61 kg he rose to 81 in just 2 weeks. “For me it’s an eating disorder, it’s not good and I never want to repeat the same thing again”, Dean said.
In competitive sports, MMA is an extremely tough subject, where athletes are holding the most horrible weight-loss records. Even so, the international MMA federation currently has no general rules, to prevent this dangerous weight-push movement.