HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The biggest issue the UFC and MMA have to deal with is no longer the use of performance enhancing drugs. Instead, weight cutting has become a plague for organizations across the world and, more importantly, the fighters themselves.
Cutting weight to drop to a lower weight class to have a size advantage over an opponent has its pros and cons. But as more fighters continue to cut massive amounts of weight in a short amount of time, the health of fighters is at risk.
To combat the dangers of weight cutting before a fight, the UFC began early weigh-ins, allowing up to 12 extra hours to re-hydrate and recover after a weight cut. While the move to early weigh-ins has been widely embraced by fighters, UFC president Dana White is blaming the early weigh-ins as the reason why so many fighters have been missing weight as of late.
Despite what many fighters have said on social media, White is looking to return to the old format for weighing in, which UFC fighter and Haleiwa native Dan Ige disagrees with.
"It is what it is. If he [White] gets rid of it, I think that's stupid - that's backwards," Ige told Hawaii News Now. "I think we've been moving in the right direction having the early weigh-ins is definitely more beneficial to the fighters health, especially brain health."
Cutting weight can cause serious health issues down the road and can, at times, be nearly fatal.
When UFC welterweight Darren Till cut weight ahead of his fight against Stephen Thompson last month, he was unable to see, walk or move without the assistance of his coaches. He would go on to miss weight but win the fight.
More recently, UFC middleweight contender Yoel Romero missed weight at UFC 225 by .2 pounds and was seen visibly shaken up afterward, unable to walk under his own weight.
"For some fighters who are severely dehydrated themselves leading up to the biggest fight of their life, it's definitely not healthy for the brain," Ige said. "And if they cut the time down by 12 hours, that's huge. I definitely don't want to see that happen."
Ige admitted that he doesn't cut a lot of weight to reach the featherweight limit of 145 pounds, but he's an exception. Fellow local fighters Yancy Medeiros and Max Holloway have had their issues with cutting weight in their careers as well.
Medeiros used to fight at lightweight (155 pounds) but missed weight back back in June of 2015 and was forced to move up welterweight (170 pounds) in order to compete.
More notably, Holloway came in on six days notice to cut down to 155 pounds to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov back in April at UFC 223 but was unable to safely make weight, according to the New York State Athletic Commission.
If White and the rest of the UFC's brass decide to get rid of early weigh-ins, the safety of fighters will be at risk once again.
"I'm a professional, and I'm going to do what I have to do (to make weight)" Ige said. "But at the same time, I think that's a step backwards."