How tough is it to fight in a sanctioned Mixed Martial Arts competition?
Well, imagine the very toughest physically demanding endeavor you have ever had to purposefully endure. Not car accident recovery or finding the odd pea hidden in a dish that ruined it, but something you have set your mind to do and then chose to follow through on. Think back-breaking, exhausting, limit-testing things. And if it is the case none of those comes to mind, the point of this writing has already been made at least in part.
Do you have it in your mind? The most grueling physical effort you have ever had to exert? Well, that would probably pale in comparison to making weight in MMA. Not fighting. Weighing in. It is hard enough to train for and engage in hand to hand combat by itself. When fighters speak of being willing to die, it is not hyperbole or theatrics. However, it is probably true that most often, the closest they have actually been to death in their careers is when cutting weight. Because it lacks the pizazz of a highlight reel spinning back fist or the photographic magnetism of a victorious combatant atop the cage shouting to whoever he is shouting at (that is illegal by the way for them to do that) – because it is not tantalizing, it is practically ignored. Except of course insofar as it threatens an event such as when UFC Welterweight Champ Kamaru Usman had to take off his Bane mask to make weight for his championship fight against Gilbert Burns or the recent fainting of Julija Stoliarenko as she took a scary fall from the scale prior to UFC Vegas 22.
There is a deeper discussion to be had about weight classes, fighter safety, cheating, long-term effects of cutting weight, etc. But at the very least, maybe the fan can do a little more in the way of respect for what fighters put on the line just to even get in the arena. Maybe before we complain about a lackluster performance or forget to consider what a short-notice weight- cut means to a fighter, we can give them their due respect for the work on the scale. I dare you to thank a fighter for making weight. Let me know what happens. It will be their first time hearing it.