Fans of the UFC and mixed martial arts will be familiar with the term weight-cutting before a fight. The process in which a fighter severely dehydrates their body before they step on to the scales. But can UFC fighters gain that weight back after weigh-in is completed?
Yes, a fighter can gain the weight back following the weigh-in process. And back in the old days of the UFC, there were additional ways in which this could be done. But nowadays with many changes to the rules, those old techniques have now been removed making it more difficult.
And one of those old techniques was by using an IV drip, which allowed fighters to rehydrate directly via an intravenous drip. It was pretty much the wild west back in the day as almost anything went.
Today things have become much stricter with UFC fighters receiving fines or even bans for breaking the rules. But with that being said, if done correctly, rehydrating properly after a weight cut can be a big advantage come fight night.
As in the sport of MMA with the gap in weight classes being up to 20 lbs. A fighter who is able to cut down to the maximum weight limit, then replenish their bodies to swell back up to a significantly larger weight. Can have a perceived big advantage during the fight.
Fighters Rehydrating Post Weigh-in
How often have you seen a fight and thought to yourself that one fighter looks much bigger than the other? Because this is almost always down to a larger fighter having a good weight cut. Then adding back on the weight to try and gain an advantage inside the octagon.
As a general rule, fighters are able to shed up to approximately fifteen pounds in the twenty-four hours prior to weigh-in. Although there are stories of far more severe weigh cuts taking place. Some of which have gone drastically wrong.
How Do UFC Fighters Regain the Weight?
As I mentioned above, fighters can no longer use IV drips to put water directly back into their bodies. So they have to find new and innovative ways in which to replenish themselves.
And with the weigh-in usually happening the day before the fight itself. This gives them a 24-hour window in which they can regain most of the weight lost.
In an excellent in-depth article by Martin Rooney MHS, PT, CSCS, NASM. He breaks down the right and wrong ways in which to both cut and regain weight before competition. And how as important the replenishment of the body is as the weight-cut itself, as many have made grave errors in what they put back into their severely depleted bodies.
Which in turn can have a knock-on affect to their performance inside the cage. Or even worse, may result in them spending time in the hospital as opposed to celebrating a win.
What Do Fighters Take?
Rather than cramming tonnes of food and water back into the body. It’s imperative that fighters eat small meals at regular 30-minute intervals. As eating large portions, the body won’t be able to digest much of the food and it will simply sit and go to waste.
Smaller meals with lots of carbohydrates to replenish the blood sugar levels. Allowing the body to process the calories and get fully absorbed. This along with regular sips of water and sports drinks to replace electrolytes.
So with around 3 – 5 gallons of water over the following 24 hours, we should see around 10 pounds of weight be added back to the body. As replacing water is critical and so it should be drunk throughout the period. Not just relying on when a person feels thirsty.
When all of the above steps are taken correctly, we have seen proven results. As UFC fighters enter their fights sometimes outweighing their opponents quite significantly.
The whole process is an art form and can be done correctly or incorrectly. So it can be critical to the outcome of the fight that it is done without any mistakes or shortcuts. So that optimum performance can be achieved in the fight to follow.
Weight cutting in the UFC is here to stay unless of course there is a definitive change in the ruleset. It’s a process that gives some fighters a distinct advantage in the fight. With the sometimes quite shocking differences between the size of opponents.
Fighters are able to lose then regain almost all the lost weight so that they enter the fight as large as possible. All without losing any of their performance during the fight.
But we have seen on so many occasions that the process can go quite badly wrong. With fighters sometimes ending up in the hospital and the fight being called off. So make sure that you follow a plan and don’t do anything new during the process.
Keep to the same foods and liquids, follow the tried and trusted methods and you will do just fine.