Cutting Weight vs Losing Weight

Kenny Florian recently became the first man in UFC history to compete at four different weight classes. Florian began his UFC career as a middleweight, fighting in the 185 lbs division. However, at UFC 131, he made his featherweight debut, fighting for the first time in the 145 lbs division.

40 lbs is an incredible amount of weight for a healthy athlete to lose. As you can see in the UFC 131 weigh-in video below, Florian’s head now looks disproportionately big in comparison to his body.

Professional MMA fighters like Florian do not normally fight at their natural weight. Instead they try to ‘cut’ as much weight as possible in order to give themselves a size advantage come fight night. The final part of this process often involves losing a dramatic amount of weight in a short period of time immediately prior to the weigh in.

2x Martial Combat FC Champion Mitch Chilson from the Evolve Fight Team explains why this is not necessarily a healthy course of action,

“There is difference between losing weight and cutting weight. When you lose weight it is the process of removing body fat over a longer period of time. 1 kg or 2 lbs every week is a good amount to target. However cutting weight is losing a larger amount of total body weight over a short period of time (3- 10 kgs in as little as 24 hrs) for a specific competition.”

If you want to lose weight should look to cut around 1 kgs a week, as per Chilson’s suggestion, through a combination of regular exercise and a sensible dietary plan. Cutting weight is something which only professional fighters should attempt and is no substitute for a long term weight loss strategy.

For anyone that is interested in the process whereby a professional fighter cuts weight Chilson reveals how his weight fluctuates in the build up to a fight,

“Six weeks out from a fight I am 75kgs, then with one week to go I am down to 71kgs. The day before the weigh in I aim to be 70kgs so that I only have a few kilos to drop to get to 66kgs. After the weigh in I will rehydrate so that by the time that I step into the cage I am close to 73kgs again.”

The unbeaten Martial Combat veteran, who also regularly competes in professional Muay Thai, shares the trade secrets behind his weight cut,

“This is how I cut weight: Approximately two weeks before the weigh in date, I increase my water consumption dramatically. Water has been shown to help eliminate toxins from the body, making the weight cut easier. Also, an increase in water intake prepares the body for fast flushing out of water in anticipation for the water weight cut. During this time I also eliminate starches from my diet and focus more on lean proteins such as fish, chicken, lean red meat with green vegetables and berries.”

“24hrs before the weigh in, I stop all consumption of food and water. I am fully hydrated and so my body will begin to flush itself out and rid itself of liquid. On the morning of the weigh in, I check my weight. If I am still not quite there, it is time to hit the sauna. This is the tough part. When you have no food or water in your system, losing the last few pounds is very hard. This process takes a high level of mental toughness. Going through a weight cut is difficult, but it will make you mentally strong and help you condition your mind for enduring pain.”

Smaller is not necessarily better and most healthy people will simply not benefit from shedding 40 lbs like Florian has done. The ideal weight for a recreational athlete depends on a number of factors such as body fat level and muscle mass. If you are unsure what your optimum weight is, you can ask an Evolve instructor for some tips.

For anyone looking to lose weight in the long term, there are no quick fix solutions. The team at Evolve MMA can help you come up with an exercise schedule and a dietary plan, but don’t expect anything to happen in the space of a few days. The key to long-term health is to live and eat correctly every day...

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.