why mma fighters cut weight

why mma fighters cut weight

Why MMA Fighters Cut Weight

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters often engage in the practice of cutting weight before a fight. This process involves losing a significant amount of weight in a short period of time to compete in a lower weight division. While controversial, weight cutting has become a common practice in MMA. There are several reasons why fighters choose to cut weight, and in this article, we will explore the various aspects of this practice.

1. Gain a Size Advantage

One of the primary reasons why MMA fighters cut weight is to gain a size advantage over their opponents. By competing in a lower weight class, fighters can be physically larger and stronger than their opponents. This can provide them with an advantage in terms of strength, reach, and overall physicality.

why mma fighters cut weight

For example, a fighter who walks around at 180 pounds may cut down to 155 pounds to compete in the lightweight division. This allows them to be significantly larger than their opponents who naturally weigh around 155 pounds. The size advantage can make a substantial difference in the outcome of a fight.

2. Enhance Performance

Weight cutting can also enhance a fighter’s performance by improving their speed, agility, and endurance. By shedding excess weight, fighters can move more quickly and efficiently in the octagon. They can also maintain their stamina for longer periods, as carrying less weight reduces the strain on their cardiovascular system.

Additionally, cutting weight can improve a fighter’s overall flexibility and mobility. This can be advantageous in executing various grappling and striking techniques. Increased flexibility can also reduce the risk of injuries during fights.

3. Psychological Advantage

Another aspect of weight cutting is the psychological advantage it provides. The discipline and dedication required to cut weight can give fighters a mental edge over their opponents. The process of cutting weight involves strict dieting, intense training, and mental fortitude. Enduring this challenging process can boost a fighter’s confidence and mental toughness, providing them with an advantage in the cage.

4. Strategic Matchups

Weight cutting allows fighters to strategically choose their opponents. By cutting weight, fighters can manipulate their weight class to avoid certain opponents who may pose a significant challenge. This strategic advantage enables fighters to select opponents who they believe they have a better chance of defeating.

5. Financial Incentives

Weight cutting can also have financial incentives for fighters. In MMA, higher-profile fights and larger purses are often associated with the lower weight divisions. By cutting weight and competing in these divisions, fighters can increase their earning potential. This financial motivation can be a significant factor in the decision to cut weight.

6. Tradition and Cultural Influence

Weight cutting has become deeply ingrained in the culture and tradition of MMA. Many fighters follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, who have successfully cut weight to gain a competitive advantage. This cultural influence and the belief that weight cutting is necessary for success in the sport can drive fighters to engage in this practice.

7. Pressure from Coaches and Teams

Coaches and teams play a significant role in the decision to cut weight. They often encourage fighters to cut weight to compete in lower weight classes where they believe their fighters will have an advantage. The pressure from coaches and teammates can be influential in a fighter’s decision to cut weight, as they trust their team’s expertise and guidance.

8. Regulatory Issues

Regulatory bodies in MMA have implemented rules and regulations to address the dangers of extreme weight cutting. However, these regulations are not always strictly enforced, and fighters may still attempt to cut weight to gain an advantage. The lack of consistent enforcement can contribute to the continuation of weight cutting practices.


While weight cutting in MMA remains a controversial practice, it continues to be prevalent in the sport. Fighters cut weight to gain a size advantage, enhance their performance, and gain a psychological edge. Strategic matchups, financial incentives, tradition, and pressure from coaches also play a role. As the sport evolves, it is crucial to find a balance between weight cutting and the health and safety of the fighters.

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