The maiden event set for November 22, Mestre do Combate will feature a novel weigh-in scheme meant to make things easier on fighters’ bodies.
Unlike at other MMA events, at the Rickson Gracie-founded show, weigh-ins will be held on the night of the fight, in an attempt by the promoters to protect the athletes from sharp weight drops in the days leading up to their fights.
“Losing weight so abruptly causes a number of problems, from dehydration to high blood pressure to cardiovascular complications. What’s more, repeating the process over the course of a career can cause psychological problems, give the fighters depression,” says Gisele Lemos, a nutritionist at the Brazilian Judo Confederation. “Losing weight all of a sudden is very damaging. By weighing in on the same night, the athlete has to be conscious, attentive and store enough energy for the fight,” she says in analysis.
And the day the scale is put to use isn’t the only change. The promoters have banned elbows and shortened the number of rounds to two, although the fight duration remains the same as at most events: the first round will last ten minutes, while the second will last five. Another difference is that fighters will not have the luxury of being saved by the bell: if a submission hold is in place when the bell sounds, they will have to defend or tap out first for the fight to end.
“The way we see it, the ten-minute round will force the fighter to draw up a smarter game plan, one that will let them balance energy and technique,” says Rickson Gracie.
Another aspect of Mestre do Combate that sets it apart is that it is a blend of individual and collective sports. When the world famous “Big” John McCarthy bellows the traditional “Let’s get it on!” the individual aspect of the sport remains intact and the fighter will have to give his all on his own. Overall, though, the competition will be comprised of teams, and each team member will enter the ring to fight for his teammates. An event founded by a master who always valued family and collective spirit could be no different.
In the event of a fight ending without a submission or knockout, the decision-making system is a curious one: the referee “Big” John McCarthy has one vote, Master Rickson has another, and the audience watching at the venue or over television has a tie-breaking vote.
The Master of Combate calendar counts nine events, the first of which already has a time and place: November 22 at the Vivo Rio concert hall in Rio de Janeiro. Each event will feature a team contest, the winner of which will have been successful in three out of five of the fights its representatives are in. The winning team goes through to the next event, and the fight purses go up with each time a fighter overcomes his opponents.
According to the promoters, in all BRL 700,000 in purses and prizes will be paid out over the 2012/2013 season. The athletes will also be fighting for the “Fighter of the Night” award.