Weigh-Ins Done Right: A Lesson from ADCC

Cutting weight is a big part of grappling and fighting sports. I like any system that forces an athlete to fight at the lowest weight they can be at while still being 100% in terms of energy, strength, and mental state without doing things like cutting water weight before a weigh-in and rehydrating right after.

Too often the weigh-ins become a fight in themselves. There is a mindset out there that if you’re in peak shape at 180 lbs, then obviously you need to cut down to 165 lbs. That’s only “obvious” because everyone does it. I think that a system can be put in place that strongly disincentivizes athletes from making such a cut. The ADCC this year has made me believe that such a system is possible and feasible, if not at the amateur level, then certainly for the pros.

Here’s what they did:

  • First weigh-in is on Friday (the day before competition)
  • Second weigh-in is right before the first match on Saturday
  • If you make it that far, third weigh-in is right before the first match on Sunday

And the icing on the cake is that a referee can call for another weigh-in at any time. That means you can’t play games with water weight. Basically, you have to do your damn best to make a real 2-3 month cut by dieting, and step on the scale hydrated and ready to fight.

I know that some ADCC participants really liked this rule and some didn’t. I think the ones that didn’t have simply become weight-cutting experts and thus this new system takes away one of their strengths. But in the long term, I think it’s for the best. After all, we not only want to see the healthiest fighters out there, but also ones that have 100% fuel in the tank, ready to battle.

0 thoughts on “Weigh-Ins Done Right: A Lesson from ADCC

  1. Eric Silverman

    Like any system it has it’s pros and cons. The only problem I have with the strict weight in rules at the ametur level is when they weigh you in. I dont think it is fair to have to wait around all day being afraid to eat anything. For ameturs I would rather see a “strict” weigh in first thing in the in the morning then another weigh in just before fight time with a 2 pound allowance. 2 pounds wouldn’t be enough the help the weight cutters but it would let people relax a little, drink a gatorade or have a small snack.

    For the pros the only problem I have is the “random” test. In theory the threat works great but if it was ever put into practice by a ref it would spark controversy.

    1. Lex Post author

      The 2 lbs allowance is what ADCC did actually (except they did 2kg), so good idea! 😉 Maybe instead of doing a random test, they do a weigh-in before every match. I don’t see why that’s so difficult, especially with a 2 kg (4.4 lbs) allowance. It’s really sad for me to see so many beginners cut huge amounts for their first competition. We need to build a culture similar to Japan where weight cutting is frowned upon.

  2. Ze Grappler

    i think Lovato Jr. said in an interview Tanquinho never actually made the weight. like with everything, then it comes down to actually enforcing the rules.
    anyone know if a superstar was forced by an IBJJF referee to weigh-in again on suspicion he’d put back on more than the allowed amount?


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