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Study: Weight-cutting affects brains, not brawn

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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Cutting weight before fights is a part of MMA. Usually, a fighter who has had a tough weight-cut is assumed to have problems in strength and endurance, but a recent study questions that assumption.

Researchers at Cal State Fullerton took a look at how weight-cutting affects wrestlers, and the results might surprise you. Cutting six pounds or more in a short period of time tends to lead to confusion among the athletes, but their strength is not affected.

The researchers found that wrestlers who lost 4 percent or more of their body mass had significantly higher levels of confusion on the day of the competition. There was no increased confusion for those who lost less than 4 percent of their body mass. Body mass reduction had no effect on other psychological functions or on grip strength or lower body power, said the researchers at California State University, Fullerton.

The weight-cutting that wrestlers do is generally of a smaller amount than fighters because they do it more often, and at the collegiate level, wrestle the same day that they weigh-in.

Fighters generally get at least 24 hours to recover from cutting down for weigh-ins, but also usually cut more weight. The study noted that decision-making is affected by weight cuts. Both Efrain Escudero and Thiago Alves did not look like themselves in bouts where they had blown weight the day before.

Consider that the next time you watch a fighter who has had significant weight-cutting issues. Is he slowing down, or is it his mental skills that are breaking down?

Thanks to the Open Mat.

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