Dr. Johnny Benjamin Discusses Safety Concerns in MMA Fighting and the UFC

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Frankie Edgar (ufc.com)

Ever since Frankie Edgar lost to Benson Henderson in UFC 144, and some would even argue before that, there has been talk about Edgar needing to drop weight to enter a lower weight class. The reason for this is not just the typical comments that he is “too small” for his weight class, but also safety concerns.  Edgar is maxing out at bulking up to fight at 155  pounds,  while other fighters are maxing out their weight loss in order to check in at the same weight class.

Dr. Johnny Benjamin,  a member of the Association of Boxing Commissions’ MMA Medical Subcommittee, believes that a fighter should not stray too far from his weight class between the weigh-in and the actual fight because of the dangers posed by matching-up two unevenly sized fighters.

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Dr. Johnny Benjamin (mmajunkie.com)

“Weight classes are intended to promote safety by opposing similarly sized combatants. The assumption is that they will be similarly sized when they actually compete, not just when they step on the scale. For clarity, I’ll say it again: For proper fighter safety, they must be similarly sized when they are in potential danger, and that occurs on the mat – not on the scale. “

Dr. Benjamin’s comment addresses the loopholes that exist in the current weight class rules. There is a lot of fluctuation in weight that can and does occur between the weigh-in and the fight. Henderson looked to be about 20 pounds heavier than Edgar when he stepped into the ring Saturday night.

Will the rules change and scale loopholes be closed in order to reflect the original purpose of weight classes? Or will opponents continue to cut and gain unreasonable amounts of weight, leading to unevenly matched bouts?

According to his Vitals profile, Dr. Benjamin is also the Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in Vero Beach, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern, which ranks in the top 25% of institutions.