After missing weight for his bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson now finds himself looking for a new MMA promotion to call home.

Had this been the first time Johnson missed weight, maybe UFC President Dana White would have given him a pass, a fine, or a slap and a tickle. However, this was not the first time “Rumble” had missed weight. While he was competing as a welterweight, Johnson took a fight on short notice against Rich Clementi at UFC 76 and missed weight. The UFC ended up going forward with the fight as a catchweight bout at 177.5 pounds. Johnson was submitted by Clementi via rear-naked choke late in the second round.

Considering Johnson took the fight on short notice, one could understand why White gave him another chance, even though he failed to make weight by six and a half pounds.

Johnson again missed weight when he was set to face off against Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104. That night, Johnson weighed in at 176 pounds. Yoshida agreed to go forward with the fight, only to be knocked out less than one minute into the first round. Because he missed weight, Johnson was fined 20 percent of his purse and was not eligible for the Knockout of the Night bonus.

Missing weight a second time should have raised a little concern among the UFC brass. After only seven fights with the promotion, Johnson had missed weight twice. Maybe in retrospect, the UFC could have been a little more proactive regarding Johnson’s weight issues.

After Johnson lost to Josh Koscheck at UFC 106, Johnson suffered a knee injury that forced him out of action for nearly a year and a half. During that time off, Johnson appeared on an edition of Inside MMA on HDNet. During the broadcast, he claimed that he routinely had to lose upwards of 55 pounds to make the welterweight limit. Also during the telecast, Johnson said that he wouldn’t be opposed to taking a fight at middleweight, but stated that welterweight was his home.

If missing weight twice didn’t worry the UFC, these statements made by Johnson should have thrown up a red flag. A man was walking around at 225 pounds, yet still put his body through hell to make the welterweight limit. If they were not worried about the potential of Johnson missing weight again, maybe they should have at least worried about the health risk associated with losing so much weight.

Anthony Johnson (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Once Johnson returned to action, he scored back-to-back victories over Dan Hardy and Charlie Brenneman at welterweight before he finally made the move to middleweight at UFC 142. When Johnson stepped on to the scales for his fight against Vitor Belfort, he weighed in at a whopping 197 pounds. Belfort agreed to move forward with the fight as long as Johnson weighed no more than 205 pounds the morning of the fight. Per the UFC official Twitter account, Johnson weighed 204.2 pounds the next morning, and the fight was on.

According to MMA Junkie, White was aware of Johnson’s weight situation before he ever stepped on the scales. White stated after the weigh-ins that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do about Johnson missing weight for a third time. It did not take long for White to make up his mind, as he announced after the event, during an interview with Jon Anik, that Johnson was cut from the promotion.

After all the drama surrounding Johnson’s ongoing battle with weight, one has to question if the UFC should have stepped in and made Johnson move up in weight. Although missing weight the most unprofessional thing a professional fighter can do, it could put a fighter at risk of serious psychological and physiological injury.

It is well-known that a fighter cuts weight by dehydrating themselves, depriving themselves of food, then drastically re-hydrating with roughly around 24 hours before they fight. When someone loses that much water weight, it takes away water that surrounds their brain. That water acts like a padding to protect the brain from injury should the skull receive any sort of blunt trauma. Also, according to Jennifer Lester, a doctoral student at Walden University majoring in Clinical Psychology, significant weight loss in a short period of time can cause psychological issues, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, confusion and mood disorders.

Lester also stated further research shows that the long-term physiological damage of constant weight cutting above four percent of a fighter’s natural body weight can cause organ failure, including damage to the liver and heart. Also, Lester stated that the window that a fighter has in order to re-hydrate before a fight is not sufficient enough to replenish the level of hydration and electrolytes necessary to re-establish proper balance of fluid in muscles and the liver.

Right now, Anthony Johnson is under the spotlight when it comes to weight cutting and making, or not making, weight. However, maybe all the blame for missing weight should not entirely be placed on Johnson.

In a sport as competitive as mixed martial arts, every fighter will do anything they can do that they believe will give them an advantage not only over their next opponent, but in the sport as a whole with a complete disregard to the long-term effects of what they are doing to their body. It is time that the major promotions step up and get weight cutting under control to ensure not only the short-term mental and physical safety, but also the long-term health of the fighters who entertain the fans and make the promotions money hand over fist.

This piece was authored by Jason Schielke. You can find Jason on Twitter: @JasonSchielke

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