Fighters cut weight.
It’s part of the process. And, for a lot of fighters, it’s the toughest part of their camp. UFC fighter Cris Cyborg has one of the hardest weight cuts I’ve read about. She walks around at 170 and, most recently, has cut to 140 for her fights. Her struggle to lose that weight was published in a documentary released in late September.
It’s difficult to watch and, it made me sick.
Boxing coach Jason Parillo, there for the process, told the camera: “What we do is we all sit here in a room and watch a human being bring themselves close to death.”
I don’t participate in cage fights but I do compete in jiu jitsu tournaments and, I don’t cut weight. I’ve done it before and will never do it again.
It’s stressful. Why add more anxiety to your plate ahead of a match. Losing 4-5 pounds is one thing but 20-30 in a week is uncalled for. It also puts a huge amount of strain on your organs and can cause damage to your body down the line.
“When you quickly drop the amount of weight many of these fighters do – 10 to 15 pounds, and often more – you’re throwing your body completely out of whack,” said Mike Ryan, the president of Mike Ryan Sports Medicine Inc. in an article on ESPNW. “That puts excessive stress on virtually every system in your body. Your kidneys take the brunt of it. Meanwhile, your brain, lungs and just about every other organ are all affected by the rapid decrease in bodily fluids and calories consumed (the lungs, for instance, are roughly 85 percent water).”
This wasn’t my thinking at 23 or 24, back when I was boxing and competing as an amateur. But the weight cut was just too much, even though I only had to trim 5-10 pounds the week of a fight. The stress was overwhelming, more than the anticipation of the fight itself.
I also have hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, and one of the symptoms includes unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight. I’ve grappled with my weight my entire life and, unfortunately, it will always fluctuate. I’ve made lifestyle changes, routine exercise changes and diet changes but nothing has worked so far so I accept it and train around it. And I compete at the weight I walk around at, sometime 5 pounds less.
Watching Cyborg cut weight made me upset. And the comments made by people in her camp made it even more difficult to watch.
“Tito (Ortiz) said that when I cry I lose water,” Cyborg said while covered in blankets, sweating out pounds ahead of her fight against Leslie Smith in mid-May. “I cried for them to give me a break and feel sorry for me then Tito said ‘Cry, cry. Good for you.'”
“Even George (Lockhart) feels bad when I cry in the bathtub,” Cyborg tells the camera while getting her hair braided. “George says that he wants to take me out of the bathtub. Ivan (Carmosino) feels bad, everyone feels bad. Then Tito arrives. He is cold blooded. When everyone is almost giving up, but still need weight to be cut. Tito arrives and ends it all.”
Later, Tito says “the body can sacrifice a lot.”
But is the sacrifice worth it? Cyborg, if she fights up a weight class, would likely destroy those girls, too. So why continue to put herself through this? It’s unfortunate and it’s also sad that the UFC and her team would allow it.