One Championship Adopts New Weigh-In Policy Following Recent Fighter Death

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 23, 2015
After the death of flyweight Jianbing Yang earlier this month, One Championship has adopted a new policy to prevent its athletes from cutting massive amounts of weight prior to a fight.

The new program, which will take effect in January, is designed to eliminate dehydration from the weight-cutting process by having fighters compete at their “walking weight.” Athletes under One Championship contract will be subject to “multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during fight week, including three hours before an event begins.”

Many fighters in MMA compete 20 pounds and then some below their normal day-to-day weight, making for dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, weight cuts. Prior to One Championship 35 weigh-ins, Yang was rushed to the hospital due to dehydration and heat stroke as a result of a failed cut. He was pronounced dead at San Juan De Dios Hospital in Pasay, Philippines, on Dec. 11.

According to a release, One Championship’s new program was adopted “after thorough discussions and recommendations” by its medical and competition team.

“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 firsthand how it affects an athlete physically,” One Championship Vice President Rich Franklin said in a release. “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.”

The full details of One Championship’s weigh-in policy 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 eight 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 three hours prior to the event. Athletes must be within their weight class and pass specific gravity hydration tests all week and up to three 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 percent 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 eight-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 Championship 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.

Additionally, all fighters must be within the limits of their weight class three weeks before their bout, as part of the aforementioned eight-week competition zone. A fighter’s bodyweight can be more than six percent over the allowable limit eight weeks before a fight, but that number gradually decreases until the final three weeks.

“We believe that through the implementation of this new weigh-in program, our fighters will enjoy a safer and healthier life inside and outside of the cage,” One Championship CEO Victor Cui said. “I invite the other two major global MMA organizations, Bellator and UFC, to follow in our footsteps to protect athletes and to eliminate the process of weight cutting by dehydration."

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