At 6:41 a.m. (Bangkok time) on Thursday 2nd May, 2019, Director of International Events, Alistair Pettitt received a message from Russia, from IMMAF -WMMAA Head of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Goddard, about a series of social media posts on Facebook and Twitter posted by UK athlete, Muhammad Mokaev.
In the posts Mokaev revealed that he would be cutting 13 kilograms of weight, accompanied by pictures of him in his bedroom wrapped up in towels with the description of him being mummified. Mr. Mokaev was travelling without any delegates from the UK MMA Federation and it was not clear as to whether he was cutting weight on his own or with an independent coach.
Advice was sought from IMMAF- WMMAA’s Regulatory Affairs Committee and Medical team and the matter was referred to IMMAF President Kerrith Brown who, after some consideration and discussion, made the executive decision to suspend Mokaev from the competition at 10:00 am.
Pre-Fight Medical Examinations had already taken place between 6am and 8am. It was agreed therefore that IMMAF-WMMAA officials would meet with Mr. Mokaev before his hands were wrapped to inform him of the decision. Unfortunately, by the time Mokaev arrived this left short time in which to counsel him before competition start.
IMMAF – WMMAA President Kerrith Brown has issued the following statement:
“Muhammad unfortunately testified to a dramatic weight cut, also using an image of him going to extremes in a 39 degrees climate that raised concerns.
“It is well promoted in IMMAF’s literature and through our education that we discourage dramatic weight cuts, especially given the tournament setting in which competitors need to maintain weight for multiple days, and we recommend athletes compete at a viable walk-around weight. There have been well publicised deaths from weight-cutting in MMA, which also increases other medical risks in competition including that of brain injury, and it is not a matter that we take lightly. We also have to consider the influence of our athletes and the examples they set to one another.
“It is the duty of the IMMAF-WMMAA Board and Administration, as governing body representatives, to make tough judgement calls at times in the interests of safeguarding athletes, and regulations cannot cover all possible eventualities as new situations may sometimes arise. Balancing fairness and correct process against timely decision-making can be especially challenging close to competition start, especially when communicating across various time zones. Competitor safety will always take priority.
“We have spoken with Muhammad at length today and will be reimbursing his competition costs, since we appreciate that he was not well-informed on this matter and has otherwise shown himself to be a committed athlete and compliant to IMMAF-WMMAA rules. We are keen to welcome him back in future into his appropriate weight category.
“Following this incident, we will also be updating our literature with a caution about how self-disclosure of any medical risk may be treated. This might include drug use, mental health issues (such as psychotic episodes or suicidal tendencies), fits and seizures etc., not all of which may be detected in a brief pre-fight physical examination, and which IMMAF – WMMAA will err on the side of caution by treating as factually correct if disclosed by an athlete. An athlete is considered responsible for their own statements and their veracity.
“We will also be re-communicating our existing advice about safe weight-management for multiple-day tournaments to our National Federations and increasing our education on this matter.”