In the wake of a tragic event in the lead up to one of their shows earlier in the month, One Championship are set to lead the way fighters cut weight by introducing new rules to their athletes which will see them compete at their “walking weight”.
The program is a first for an MMA promotion and will require fighters to weigh-in on multiple occasions before the fight, during fight week and 3 hours before the event.
Former UFC Middleweight Champion and Vice President of One Championship, Rich Franklin had the following to say on the new policy;
“Today I’m proud to have been involved with developing the new weigh-in program for ONE athletes. As a former MMA champion, I’ve been through the process of weight-cutting by dehydration countless times and I know first-hand how it affects an athlete physically. I personally understand the importance of safety and competing at your very best as a professional MMA athlete and after reviewing the new regulations and policies governing the weigh-in procedures and contracted weight limits, this new program does both for our athletes.”
A list of general rules and policies have been published by the promotion and are as follows;
1. Athletes must submit their current walking weight and daily training weight regularly. Athletes will input and track their daily weight online via a dedicated web portal. Athletes may input data weekly but must include daily weights.
2. Athletes will be assigned to their weight class based on collated data and random weight checks. Athletes are not allowed to drop a weight class when less than 8 weeks out from an event.
3. During fight week, weights are checked daily. Urine specific gravity will also be checked the day after arrival and 3 hours prior to the event. Athletes must be within their weight class and pass specific gravity hydration tests all week and up to 3 hours before the event. If an athlete falls outside the weight, or fails a test, they are disqualified from the event. Doctors may request additional testing at their discretion.
4. Catch weight bouts are allowed. However, the athlete with the higher weight will not be heavier than 105% of the lighter opponent’s weight.
5. ONE will conduct random weight checks on athletes at our discretion.
6. Athletes may petition to change weight classes outside of the 8-week competition zone and must be within their new desired weight at that time. In addition, athletes must pass a specific gravity urine test when their weight is within the limits of the newly petitioned weight class. ONE doctors can request additional testing to determine the amount of weight drop allowed over a specific time.
7. The usage of IVs for the purpose of rehydration will not be allowed.
It’s obviously a huge tragedy that it takes something as serious as a fighter’s death to bring the realisation to the situation, but absolute credit to One Championship for taking a bold move forward in fighter safety.
There has been a huge focus on fighters cutting weight and suggestions of bringing in new weight classes which I don’t particularly think is the right answer and I am really intrigued to see how this plays out for One and its athletes.
Will there be some hiccups and moving parts to tackle along the way? Almost certainly. But are they looking to use their initiative and help support fighters? Absolutely.
I am a huge advocate of anything that can be done to help athletes and this new policy really does embrace that. We will all be paying close attention to their first event of 2016 which takes place on 26th January 2016 in China, and lets hope we see a positive impact on the fighters.