‘Are we going to wait for someone to die?’: St-Pierre slams weight-cutting culture in MMA
UFC legend Georges St-Pierre says that the sport of mixed martial arts needs to come up with a range of safer weight-cutting practices to protect the health of its athletes before tragedy strikes.
Last May, on the eve of the biggest fight of his career, UFC welterweight contender Darren Till was struggling to make weight for his hometown clash with then #1 contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
Distracted by an unexpected family event, Till’s weight cut was an arduous one. A video shot by a betting firm which sponsored the Liverpool fighter showed him fatigued and bathed in perspiration, as he attempted to shed the pounds to make the welterweight limit of, in this case, 171lbs.
At one point Till, a notoriously large welterweight, complains that his vision was failing. His body, it seemed, was shutting down, siphoning power from all non-vital functions.
Till would ultimately miss weight and was docked a percentage of his purse, but the fight would proceed as planned and despite all the issues in the lead-in, it was Till who would register the victory. He has a world title shot in less than a month.
The UFC introduced a system of ‘early’ weigh-ins, which take place the morning before the fight instead of the previous system of the evening before - the idea being that fighters will have more time to re-hydrate. A criticism, however, of this system is that some suggest it gives athletes motivation to cut even more weight given their additional allotted recuperation time.
UFC President Dana White has recently suggested that the UFC will go back to the evening weigh-ins, scrapping the early morning weigh-ins, but critics of the practice say that an entire overhaul of the weight-cutting culture is required before it is too late.
Former two-division world champion Georges St-Pierre echoes these thoughts.
“I was on a conference call with the athletic commission of New York. Chael Sonnen, Randy Couture was on it. We had a very good discussion about that issue, the weight cut issue,” St-Pierre said via Submission Radio at a recent speaking engagement in Australia.
“Chael Sonnen brought from what I have heard probably the best solution, because of his years of experience in [amateur] wrestling. He proposed to do a weigh-in on the day of the fight.
“What he proposes is that you have a weigh-in the night before the fight like we normally do but people now say that because the weight-cut is in the morning, [they] have more time to recuperate so they try to cut more weight.
“It is sad to say but sometimes I am thinking [if] we are going to wait for someone to die out there to change things? It’s ridiculous.
“So what Chael is proposing is that if you make a weigh-in the day of the event, a lot of guys will lose weight but they won’t lose in terms of dehydration weight.
“You’re knowing that if you’re going to compete the same day you can’t dehydrate yourself if you weigh-in an hour before your competition. That’s what they used to do in amateur wrestling in the United States and do you know how many people miss weight? Zero.
“It’s very weird that in a professional sport in a professional organization at the highest level people miss weight. They need to not change the individual, they need to change the system.”