(Photo via MMANYTT.SE)
A 26-year-old Brazilian fighter named Leandro “Feijao” Souza died yesterday while cutting weight for today’s Shooto Brazil 43 card in Rio de Janeiro, MMA Fighting reports. The 1-1 MMA rookie was attempting to finish his cut for a flyweight matchup with Gabriel Brasil, when he passed out and died shortly thereafter.
According to his teammate Andre Santos, “We don’t have much information yet, but we do know that is related to his weight cut. He’s my student but he also trains at Nova Uniao for about a year. I wasn’t with him during this process because I have a fight scheduled in Russia, so he spent the night at Nova Uniao’s gym. His sister called me saying that he had passed out so I went to the hospital, but he was already dead when I got there.”
Deaths in MMA have thankfully been a rare occurrence — but the torturous lengths that some athletes go to in preparation for their fights can be more dangerous than the fights themselves. Improper weight-cutting can permanently ruin a fighter’s health, causing everything from kidney damage to hypogonadism. Unfortunately, massive weight cuts have become a necessary evil for fighters who don’t want to be at a size disadvantage during their fights, and the wide distances between weight classes in MMA contribute to the problem. Maybe this tragic incident can serve as an eye-opener for young fighters who severely dehydrate themselves to compete, at the expense of their long-term health.
Our deepest condolences go out to Souza’s family and the Brazilian MMA community.
UPDATE: Shooto Brazil president Andre Pederneiras has announced that tonight’s event has been canceled as a “sign of mourning” for Souza.