The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) hosted the third day of its 2021 Technical Seminar Week today with a seminar on Evidence Based Weight Management in MMA. Uneducated and extreme weight management practices pose a risk to athletes across sport and the event followed Monday’s public Thought Leadership panel session on Athlete Weight Management in Sport, as IMMAF seeks to educate its membership and to exchange knowledge with other stakeholders in international sport.
Today’s member session, which drilled deeper into the subject as it applies to MMA, featured academics:
- Dr Carl Langan-Evans PhD ASCC SENr – Research Fellow in Applied Sport Physiology and Nutrition at Liverpool John Moores; nutrition consultant to a range of athletes including current UFC fighters.
- Ben Crighton MSc – PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University researching the effects of weight management on performance and health in sport; featured in BBC3 documentary The Weight Cut: Extreme Weight Loss highlighting the athlete health issue in professional MMA.
- Christopher Kirk MSc CSci CSCS – Lecturer of Sport and Exercise Physiology at Sheffield Hallam University; PhD student at Liverpool John Moores University, researching the development of a performance coaching framework for MMA.
Kirk highlighted how extreme weight-cutting practices can negatively impact heart rate, the nervous system, cognitive function, upper and lower body strength, energy levels, oxygen rate, as well as causing muscle damage, increased risk of brain injury and dramatic drops in testosterone among other impacts. Crighton talked through the incidence and health effects of disordered eating and eating disorders among athletes across sport. He also presented research that showed no correlation between success in MMA competition and the amount of weight gained between weigh in and competition (when compared with opponents), including at IMMAF Championships. Using a real-life case study, Langan-Evans took a deep dive into the effects that making weight has on the body at different stages of fight camp and discussed how the process can be better and more safely managed by athletes, coaches and federations to support long term fighter health and performance.
Chris Kirk commented: “MMA is a sport of complex demands and we must prepare our athletes for the technical and physiological requirements that are involved. A weight cut can seriously effect both of those elements and negatively impact an athlete’s performance as a result.”
Dr Carl Langan-Evans said: “I would encourage athletes that are looking to make weight for competition to have their bodies professionally examined and to identify the safe ranges in which they can operate when it comes to training.”
Ben Crighton commended IMMAF for hosting the session and, as the first sports governing body that he had been invited to address on the subject, for taking a progressive approach. Crighton said: “We need to change the culture within the sport by educating athletes and coaches about the negative impacts to health of weight cutting and what the safest ways to lose weight for competition are.”
2021 IMMAF Technical Seminar Week for IMMAF members continues Thursday with Doping Risks and Anti-Doping Solutions, presented by IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity and The Proving of Regulatory Pathways in MMA presented by IMMAF Regulatory Affairs Director, Marc Goddard.