My last fight was my third type of full contact competition I had taken part in. The fourth martial art I have competed in. All of these competitions have been within the last year. The difference this time? This was the first time I had prepared for a fight. I had cut weight before, but it was a desperate rush for a martial art I had only been taking classes in for a month or so. The other two I took at such short notice, I often say, for both fights I had one training session.
I had a good month to prepare for this one, I trained regularly. And hard. I kept my weight up until the week before the fight. Three weeks before my fight, after a couple of days away I weighed in at 78kg. Fully fed and hydrated I weighed in at 76kg two weeks before my fight. For my fight I had to weigh in at 70kg, with a 1kg leeway (because weigh in was the same day as the fight). The week before the fight I weighed in at 74kg, my diet became very strict, my training less intense. Three days before the fight I weighed in at 73kg. At the weigh in I was at 70.5kg.
I’m going to write the way I cut weight, I’m not saying it’s ideal and it’s definitely been a learning curve for me. On the day I felt real strong but there are definitely things I would change for next time. I’ve manipulated my weight plenty of times so I knew I could do it, though this was a harder cut for me, I was in pretty good shape before I started cutting so this made it slightly harder!
The first mistake I made was I worried about my weight. I had told a training partner my weight a couple of weeks out from the fight and he had seemed worried about my ability to make weight. This, in turn, worried me. I knew I could do it and I had a plan in my head. His doubt made me doubt myself. As a result I’d sometimes dehydrate a little to see progress in my weight loss when I should have been keeping very hydrated until the last couple of days. My goal for this fight was to maintain as much muscle mass as possible so I was the heavier and, hopefully, the stronger fighter on the night.
The next thing I’d say to avoid at all costs is dating someone so close to a fight. In fact socialising at all is a bit of an issue during a weight cut. It’s the same for dieting. Everyone offers you food. Everyone tries to say ‘this won’t matter’ or ‘just take a day off from it’. It takes real dedication or, in my case, a little experience to not let this damage your cut. I’ll offer an example, my parents were away and I’d been busy training. I had to go visit my grandma because I’d been so busy I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks. I went out with her and my cousin and she was pretty keen on going to a carvery. This was 2 weeks out from my fight and I was concerned about my weight. I got the smallest plate size they did and loaded it with veg and turkey. I made the best out of a bad situation. When socialising it’s a good idea to look out the healthiest meal you can choose. During a weight cut avoid socialising in a food environment but while dieting just made better decisions about what you order. Don’t listen to people telling you to take a day off.
Dating is a similar, but very different issue. I met a girl a while ago while I was in the final stages of a weight cut (dehydration etc). I asked her out and we went out to the pub and cinema the next night. Man, I was so thirsty the whole time. I felt the cold more and I felt a bit dozy. I managed to salvage some charm but I felt awful the whole time we were out. Luckily I did enough or a second date and the next time we went out I could eat and drink and I was in much better spirits. This time round I was more used to it. I would tell her not to worry about my diet, sometimes even trying a bite of whatever she was eating. Yeah, I was constantly starving, but it’s not a process that lasts forever. You just have to mentally log the deviations from your diet plan and add a couple of extra meters on your run or a couple of extra rounds on the bag. Work it off.
So, aside from the deviations in the diet, which are sometimes unavoidable. I’ll explain how I made weight for my fight. I wanted to maintain as much weight as I could, I did a little research but perhaps not enough to do it as efficiently as I would have liked. Three weeks out (at 78 kg) I started eating really clean. I do a sort of macro count to get the correct balance. I try to avoid processed foods, still eat plenty so it doesn’t affect the training, which I’m doing twice a day hard out. I’ve also started running 3-5km every couple of days. Training for me is usually, a run, about 20 mins of HIIT then several rounds on the bag. As the fight gets closer I do less rounds on the bag. Then on the evening I go to train at PDKM for a couple of hours, usually pad work, sparring etc.
Two weeks out I’m at 76kg. Over the weekend I attended fight camp, I trained real hard for a couple of days, started with running a few miles through some hills and 2 and a half days of training. My food intake was higher because of the amount of training, but I was under the watchful eyes of Neil so I just ate a load of fruit. I maintained weight over the weekend but I was feeling in really rood shape for it. When I returned I started to lower my carb intake to around 130g a day. I only eat carbs before training or work (usually fruit) and I’ve also cut the fat to about 40g of good fat a day. Still training twice a day but this consists of running 3-5km and 4×2 min rounds on the bag, then training at PDKM on the night.
One week out and I’m at 74kg. Everyone seemed concerned about my weight but I knew I could lose a couple in water. In fact, on the Saturday, after sparring Neil for about 20 rounds I weighed myself and I came to about 71.8 (if I remember correctly) because of water loss. I started eating a lot of fish, broccoli and cauliflower. I cut my carbs to under 100g for the start of the week, by Thursday I’d dropped to 73kg. Now, I read that carbs help you retain water, I stopped putting anything into my body that helped you retain water. I had been using hot chilli sauce on my food until now but the high salt count meant that I moved off to chilli flakes. I was sick of white fish so I treat myself to some tuna steaks. I cut carbs to under 50g a day for the last couple of days and cut my water intake to about 1 liter. On the Thursday (the fight was a Saturday) I was a bit concerned about my weight. I did a 3km run with a bin bag on to try sweat some more out. I got down to about 72.1kg.
To make the last bit I got some senna tablets. Let them clear me out a bit. The lack of food and water had clogged me up a bit and I also read that it’s good for a fighter to clean their system out a bit. My diet on the Thursday and Friday consisted of 3 meals of tuna steak with 1 piece of cauliflower and 1 piece of broccoli, a small bowl of fruit for breakfast (approx 50g), 2 hard boiled eggs (at seperate times). The last couple of days were not so bad because my body had gone into ketosis. It kind of kills your appetite. When I was really hungry, or thirsty, or both I sucked on a frozen berry. I bought ice in case it got to a desperate stage, but it didn’t. On the morning of my weigh in I was at 70.5kg. I could have drank or ate something then but I wanted to be as close to 70kg as I could.
I took a bar of galaxy caramel, a banana and a 4 pack of lucazade sport to the weigh in. I ate as much as I could as soon as it was done. I was surprised my opponent weighed in heavier than me because I thought he was going to be underweight(which is why I wanted to be closer to 70kg). My plan for the day was to eat every 30 mins until my fight, and take on as much water as I could without being bloated or uncomfortable. After a cut it’s hard to eat. I made sure I ate a lot of sugary foods. I started with chocolate and a banana, with lucazade and water. 30 mins later I ate some chicken and some fruit. I also had some creatine because I though it would help with the dehydration. I sipped water and lucazade all day. I was with the girl I was seeing and I felt a bit like a needy child, demanding that she feed me every 30 mins. I had some chocolate during the gaps when I couldn’t eat properly. I had a jacket potato with cheese and plenty of salt for my last meal. Then, just before I set out for my fight I ate some kinder bueno cake. I’m not sure there’s any health benefit to a kinder bueno cake, but it was a good choice after a couple of weeks of controlled carbs. My body seemed to process it all well, I felt full of energy before my fight. I kind of needed to urinate but I thought it would give me a little more urgency once I was in the ring. I also had my hands taped and gloves on and Craig didn’t seem too keen on aiming for me.
I walked into my fight at around 73-74kg. Admittedly some of it was cake weight, but I don’t think I compromised my performance and I felt strong in there. There are some factors I’ll think about for my next fight but overall I’m pretty happy.