Weight Cutting Deaths

Jon Gelber, an orthopedic surgeon who has studied the effects of weight cutting, told USA TODAY Sports.

"The top-3 problems in combat sports are PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs), concussions and weight cutting. Weight cutting hasn’t gotten the attention it needs.”

Combat sport is a mixture of wrestling, kickboxing, stand up, and ground-based martial arts, and boxing, and chances of frequent injuries are high. There is a life-threatening side effect of this sport that almost every MMA fighter faces. The process of weight cutting can be deadly dangerous. 

Weight Cutting

Suspected Weight Cutting Related Deaths

  • Leandro Souza

In 2013, the MMA fighter Leandro Souza passed out before the weigh-in for a fight in his native country Brazil.  Reports said that Souza had taking diuretics to lose the necessary weight, drugs that are banned by UFC and state commissions that govern combat sports here in the U.S.

  • Yang Jian

In 2015, Yang Jian Bing was scratched from ONE Championship’s event in the Philippines on Thursday after he failed to make weight. His opponent, Geje Eustaquio, posted on Facebook that Bing  “was rushed to the hospital due to dehydration and possible heatstroke.”

  • Jessica Lindsay

In 2017, Perth Jessica Lindsay went for a run on November 10 in an attempt to cut her weight to 64 kilos. But tragically she collapsed while exercising and was pronounced dead four days later in hospital. Dr. Joe Kosterich said the young woman may have suffered heat exhaustion in the hours leading up to her big break in the ring.

  • Jordan Coe

In 2017, a muay Thai boxer Jordan Coe, 20, from Scotland died from suspected heatstroke while trying to make the weight for about in Thailand. His coach Craig Floan said.

"Jordan was found this morning, he died in Thailand and the embassy there think he died from heatstroke"

How Fighters cut their weight?

Weight cutting is a process in which MMA fighters drop their weight by day to day walking. Weight cutting is achieved by consistent training and a strenuous mixture of diet. This rigorous training period to become “fight ready” generally lasts between four to eight weeks. However, the most dangerous part of the weight cutting is the last 24 hours when a fighter is ready to step up on the scale. 

It doesn’t matter how much you work out or lose weight with diet reduction; finally, it comes to the last few pounds that you lose through water weight and dehydrating yourself dry. It results in weakening your body, and you are putting your body more at risk than your weight. The process of weight cutting is done so that a fighter has the opportunity to rehydrate for a few hours after the weigh-in and a fighter enter the cage with a weight advantage. 

It gives fighters the advantage over their opponents, and chances of winning increase. To obtain much-needed strength, athletes drain themselves. The weight cutting process is full of danger. Sometimes fighters fell ill, and in the worst case, they may end up losing their lives. UFC is the leading promoter of MMA fights, and due to weight cutting issues, most of the fights being canceled or events have been reshuffled. When fighters fell ill, a day before the event, it’s not only a massive loss for the organizers but also for the fans and fighters. 

It is a risk that both the fighters and promoters are willing to take. What makes this sport so much popular? It is the financial incentives that both parties enjoy. This culture of weight cutting is becoming less popular since the induction of weight classes in the late nineties. 

However, weight cutting is again making the headlines and debate on weight cutting is increasing day by day. On both sides of the discussion, there are referees, fighters, and promoters. Some are in favor of weight cutting and say that a fighter needs to be disciplined, and some say fighters must eliminate this practice to get rid of this life danger. The severity of weight cutting can be different. Some fighters only lose a few pounds, and others partake brutal weight cuts, resulting in losing 30 pounds weight, and it offers them the side advantage over their opponents for the next fight. 

Techniques for Weight Cutting

  • Weight cutting is the process that fighters use by dehydrating their body as much as they can. 
  • The most common technique used by the fighters is to begin starving of food and water, especially in those days when they are leading to fight. Fighters use a combination of saunas, sweatsuits, and towels to dehydrate their bodies. It will allow the body to lose water weight. 
  • MMA fighters cut their body weight by almost up to 15%. But according to Dr. Loosemore, they have strict guidelines for the boxers.  

What are the possible dangers of weight cutting?

Weight cutting is incredibly common in boxing. Medical officers involved in this game say that when fighters lose a large amount of weight in a short time, they are putting their lives in danger. 

  • When fighters lose weight by dehydrating their bodies, one thing is for sure, the sweat they lose isn’t the pure water. It also contains salt with it that is much needed for running your heat in a smooth and nice way. 
  • Weight cutting also results in the loss of electrolytes that are needed for the nerves that keep your heartbeat regular. 
  • 18 years Muay Thigh fighter Jessica Lindsay lost her life because of weight cutting. The primary cause of her death was extreme dehydration, and her heart rate reaches 180bpm. She was trying to limit her weight to 64kg for her upcoming fight in November 2017. 
  • A dehydration of 2% of their body weight is considered to be safe. The higher percentage is never recommended because it is not safe and can be a killer. 
  • With weight cuts, fighters are not only putting their bodies at risk, but the process of rehydration can be damaging for the body as well. When you rehydrate your body, most often, the fluid is not distributed normally in the body and goes on wrong places. 

The Future of Weight Cutting

UFC is currently dealing with problems like weight cutting. However, as time goes on and higher profile fights are lost due to weight cutting, then the more debate and discussion will hold over a small and large scale. And the dialogue will involve fighters, fans, and promoters. Organizers are more worried about the weight cuts than the events. 


Lots of debate is going on the weight cutting. Whether it is beneficial or not is still not sure. Most of the people consider it as a danger for life. In this process, fighters lose weight by dehydrating their bodies. They do this in a short period of time so it can be deadly dangerous.

There are few examples of the fighters who lost their lives due to weight cutting. It may sound good to lose 20 lbs before a fight, but it doesn’t make sense. Because you lose it before fight and then regain it. From a safety and performance point of view, it does not make any sense. So, the promoters should offer incentives to players, and the organization should take strict actions and set proper guidelines to stop weight cutting. 

Mixed martial art (MMA) was formerly known as “Cage Fighting.” For a single fight, fighters can earn $100,000.


Sky Hoon. About
Martial Art Fan
He started his love on martial arts by watching MMA and Angela Lee. He then started this blog to learn more about the different martial arts.
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