Fighting in the UFC is tough, but for many fighters, the actual fight isn’t the hard part. Weight cutting is extremely common in the UFC, and while the process can be healthy and easy, it’s often not. Here’s a look at what happened to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Uriah Hall, and other top UFC fighters during some of their weight cuts.
Why UFC fighters cut weight and why it’s potentially dangerous
For many Americans, the idea of cutting weight is simple. Just eat healthier foods and exercise more and you’ll be losing weight in no time. That’s not the case for professional fighters who already eat healthy and exercise a lot, however.
Every fighter in the UFC needs to weigh a certain amount before their fight, and if they miss weight, they can get punished. And, since they’re already eating healthy and exercising, they need to do even more to lose weight.
That’s why UFC fighters will do a weight cut in the week before their fight. This weight cut process typically involves dehydrating themselves so that they can lose water weight. According to Popular Science, Paige VanZant, who fought in the 115-pound women’s strawweight division, cut 23 pounds of weight in just 10 days, and most of that was water.
Other fighters could cut more, and others could cut less, but the results are typically the same. The fighters make weight, they rehydrate to normal levels, and then they fight.
But, Popular Science wrote that about 39% of fighters go into a fight while still being dehydrated, and that could not only hurt their performance, but also their health. Additionally, this weight cutting process can also do long-term bodily damage, according to Popular Science.
What happened to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Uriah Hall?
Nurmagomedov is no stranger to weight cut issues, but before his fight against Conor McGregor, his weight cut problems reared its ugly head once again. According to talkSport, Nurmagomedov claimed that he suffered seizures while he was cutting weight for his fight against McGregor. Nobody knew about this at the time, and he only shared this story after the fight was over.
“I had seizures and I felt very ill. But if I lost I would not tell you about this. Because that would have been an excuse,” Nurmagomedov said. He credited his psychological toughness for allowing him to get through the weight cut and dominate McGregor during their fight.
Uriah Hall had a worse experience with weight cuts, however. According to MMAfighting, in 2018, he pulled out of a fight after he suffered some of the more serious side effects of weight cutting.
Hall said, “I was conscious, but I was unconscious. I think I had a mini seizure and at the same time a slight heart attack. My kidneys were just not good.” Hall then said that his doctor told him that he could’ve died if he had fought after cutting weight.
When weight cutting gets really bad
For many fighters, The Ultimate Fighter is a reality show that allows them a chance at becoming the UFC’s next big star. However, for Steve Montgomery, that just wasn’t meant to be.
According to Fox Sports, while preparing for a fight, he suffered a seizure and had to be hospitalized. He had suffered complications from weight cutting, and unfortunately for him, this resulted in his removal from the show.
While seizures and “slight heart attacks” are possible, it’s also possible for a fighter to die during a weight cut. That’s exactly what happened in ONE FC, a major Asian MMA promotion.
After that tragedy, ONE FC changed its weight cutting rules so that another death wouldn’t happen again, but that won’t prevent weight cutting deaths from happening elsewhere.