This Sunday, Dec. 18, Outside the Lines will explore the MMA and the dangers of weight cutting (9 a.m. ET, ESPN2) as reported by Will Cain.
“This topic was the brainchild of OTL coordinating producer Carolyn Hong. From what I understand, she and her husband follow the sport and learned more about how prevalent drastic weight cutting is in MMA,” Cain said. “It only took a few YouTube videos and learning the fact that you could sweat off dozens of pounds in a day’s time to peak my interest.”
Finding a current fighter who was willing to talk about the dangers they face in order to cut weight was a challenge.
“It took some time finding someone who was willing to not only tell us about how they cut weight, but also show us, and who had a fight and ‘cut’ in the near future,” Cain said. “While we were exploring, we learned of the predicament of women in the UFC and Cris “Cyborg” Justino in particular. It so happened that she had a documentary crew film her last weight cut and was very interested in talking about what it takes for her to make weight.”
After speaking with her, Cain says he was surprised at her vulnerability.
“Here is a woman who destroys other fighters in the ring, a fighter who is known for her aggressiveness, hell. . . her name is Cyborg,” he said. “But she is so human and vulnerable. She shared a lot of emotion about her weight cut, her war of words with Ronda Rousey and her fight with the UFC.”
The piece reveals what fans don’t ordinarily see, the events leading up to the big fight that are behind the curtain.
“When people watch an MMA fight, they are seeing the last ten minutes of a movie. They are reading the last chapter of a book. They may be seeing the climax, but not all the buildup that goes into that 10 minutes of action,” Cain said. “I spoke to many fighters, and to a man (and woman), they said the ‘real’ fight was the weight cut. That what went on in the cage was nothing in comparison. So I hope people will understand the dangerous fight that takes place before the televised fight.”
The topic is currently in the news as this week, the MMA announced an additional weight class for women fighters. Now, instead of two classes there will be three, topping out at 145 pounds.
“I’m disappointed the UFC didn’t participate in the story. The UFC has taken laudable measures to address extreme weight cutting,” Cain said. “I think the UFC has some questions to answer about the positions they’ve taken with Cyborg. But I also suspect they have reasons and answers to those questions. I wish they would have shared those answers.”