One Championship has announced a drastic overhaul of its weigh-in procedure. The mixed martial arts promotion said late on Wednesday that the moves are designed to end the practice of weight-cutting by dehydrating, and come less than two weeks after the death of Chinese ONE fighter Yang Jian Bing.
The new program, the first of its kind for combat sports, is focused on athlete safety by introducing “walking-weight” competition via multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during the week of the fight, including three hours before an event begins, ONE said.
Bing collapsed on December 10 after failing the weigh-in for the next day’s ONE: Spirit of Champions in Manila and died in hospital a day later. It was reported that his attempt to make weight was a factor in his collapse. The cause of death was initially announced as from “cardiopulmonary failure”.
The official autopsy report this week, however, determined that the 21-year-old died from an “acute myocardial infarction”, the medical term for a heart attack.
One’s statement outlining the new weigh-in procedure made no mention of Bing.
“By banning weight cutting by dehydration, we are leading the way globally for enhanced safety standards for professional MMA athletes,” One chief executive officer Victor Cui said.
“ONE Championship has paved the way for MMA in Asia and we have always been at the forefront of innovation for the sport. By banning weight cutting by dehydration, we are leading the way globally for enhanced safety standards for professional MMA athletes,” Cui said.
“We believe that through the implementation of this new weigh-in program, our fighters will enjoy a safer and healthier life inside and outside of the cage.
“I invite the other two major global MMA organisations, Bellator and UFC, to follow in our footsteps to protect athletes and to eliminate the process of weight cutting by dehydration,” Cui added.
One said it would regularly check the weight of all fighters in an attempt to eradicate the common practice of fighters dehydrating their bodies to make it into their weight class.
They will be weighed three hours before a fight and can be banned from competing if they fail to make their weight.
ONE vice president Rich Franklin, a former UFC champion, said: “Today I’m proud to have been involved with developing the new weigh-in program for ONE athletes.
As a former MMA champion, I’ve been through the process of weight-cutting by dehydration countless times and I know first-hand how it affects an athlete physically.
“I personally understand the importance of safety and competing at your very best as a professional MMA athlete and after reviewing the new regulations and policies governing the weigh-in procedures and contracted weight limits, this new program does both for our athletes.”
Mixed martial artist Leandro “Feijao” Souza died on September 26, 2013, trying to make weight for a bout. It was widely suspected at the time that the use of diuretics was involved in the Brazilian fighter suffering a stroke.