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Alarming weight cutting behaviours in mixed martial arts: a cause for concern and a call for action
  1. Ben Crighton1,
  2. Graeme L Close2,
  3. James P Morton3
  1. 1 Centre for Public Health, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3 Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James Morton, Exercise Metabolism and Nutrition, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Room 1.37, Tom Reilly Building, Byrom St Campus, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK; J.P.Morton{at}ljmu.ac.uk

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Some nutritional practices in mixed martial arts (MMA) are dangerous to health, may contribute to death, and are largely unsupervised. MMA is a full contact combat sport (often referred to as cage fighting) that emerged to western audiences in 1993 via the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). MMA is one of the world's fastest growing sports and now broadcasts to over 129 countries and 800 million households worldwide.

Underpinning the focus on weight controlling practices, lies MMA's competition structure of 11 weight classes (atomweight, 47.6 kg; strawweight 52.2 kg; flyweight, 56.7 kg; bantamweight, 61.2 kg; featherweight, 65.8 kg; lightweight, 70.3 kg; welterweight, 77.1 kg; middleweight, 83.9 kg; light-heavyweight, 93 kg; heavyweight, 120.2 kg; super-heavyweight, no limit) that are intended to promote fair competition by matching opponents of equal body mass. Athletes aim to compete at the lowest possible weight, usually achieved by rapid weight loss methods reliant on acute/chronic dehydration (eg, saunas, sweat suits, diuretics, hot baths, etc). Weigh-in occurs on the day before (24–36 h prior) competition therefore …

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