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After ABC debacle of new Unified MMA rules, UFC moves to kill extra weight classes

By Zach Arnold | October 18, 2017

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UFC just gave top ally Andy Foster and the Association of Boxing Commissions the Heisman stiff-arm on adding extra weight classes to Mixed Martial Arts.

UFC has closely worked with the California State Athletic Commission on new plans to combat the grotesque epidemic of fighters having vital organs shut down as a result of cutting too much weight.

A major component of the California reformation plan involves adding more weight classes. Andy Foster, the Executive Officer at California’s commission, used his perch with ABC to get the trade organization on board with adding more weight classes. This is the first step to get ABC to politick the major state athletic commissions to adopt ABC recommendations.

The politicking strategy has failed terribly so far in regards to pushing a newer, modified set of Unified Rules for MMA. Some states have said yes, some have said no. Predictably, as a result, it has led to mass confusions for fighters and officials who have to memorize two different sets of fighting rules.

The same ABC politicking strategy that failed on pushing new Unified Rules has gotten a death sentence from the UFC on adding more weight classes. Dana White officially delivered the edict.

Even if you buy into UFC’s argument against adding weight classes, there’s a bigger issue at play: title belts. Adding more MMA title belts is bad for business.

So what’s the good news?

The good news is that UFC’s top lobbyists, especially in California, are pushing forward on many different ideas to combat dangerously scary weight cutting.

So far, the results have been… mixed. California pushed for early morning weigh-ins on the day before fight shows and it has resulted in a remarkable increase of fighters missing weight. The logic behind the idea was simple: give fighters more time to regain weight before the night of the fight. 36 hours is better than 24 hours.

Unfortunately, life is full of unintended consequences. Giving fighters extra time to gain weight before fight night has resulted in nutritionists and fighter assistants botching their weight-cutting schedules. Risk management has gone haywire. Crazy things are happening all over the world.

Patience is a virtue and it’s a safe bet that California, in conjunction with UFC, will figure out the right recipe to fix this crisis. It is a crisis when fighters are pushing their vital organs to the brink of shutting down while fighting off staph infections. It shouldn’t be up to the promoters to absorb all the financial cost and responsibility for irresponsible behavior.

Athletic commissions have increased fines for fighters who miss weight. That’s not working. I suspect it would be a much different story if fight promoters increased liquidated damages clauses in their fighter contracts for gross violations of missing weight. We may have reaching that point shortly.

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