T Nation

'BMI Means Nothing' for Fighters


So I was just told by someone who allegedly trains in MMA that "BMI means nothing" for fighters because Big Country. I didn't realize that people labored under the delusion that because a couple of heavyweights can go Big Country/Butterbean, they don't need to work on their own body composition.

If you are avoiding dieting because you're one of them, I hope you enjoy losing.

Yes, some Heavyweights in open or near open weight classes can gey hyooooge and win. Most of them still gas at inopportune times. Also, I can guarantee you're not one of them, or I'd have heard of you. Most of you, if you're serious about combat sports, need to cut every ounce you can that's not being used to hurt someone. The advantage you surrender by fighting bigger, taller fighters who will likely have better gas tanks is gargantuan. Simply cutting water before a fight, but taking an extra weight class worth of fat into the ring, is stupid. Don't be dumb.



Did you explain that BMI is a calculation based on height and weight only.

So "Big Country" isn't even an argument.

Roy Nelson- 6' 260lbs BMI- 35.3

Brock Lesnar- 6'3" call it 280lbs(cuting to 265) BMI-35 Looking a lot different.

Cain Velasquez- 6'1" 240 BMI-31.7

Jeff Monson-5'9" at 238lbs BMI-35.1 At 240 its 35.4

Actually, maybe BMI is better for fighters than everyone else. Lower BMI means tall for your weight class.

Thing is, none of the guys on the list above were/are known to gas out and get beat.

Contrast that to

BJ Penn-5'9" at 160 BMI 23.6, at 168 BMI 24.8 and tired.

Mark Kerr, Shogun, Jason Miller are all examples of guys who have come in in great shape, and horrible shape with pretty much the same BMI.

How the hell did this guy even bring up BMI?

Was he tired? Than he was out of shape.

Also, Jim Beam Black is not as good as you said.


Robert A


Semmy Schilt 6'11" and 281 w/ BMI of 29.7

Tim Sylvia 6'8" and 270 w/ BMI of 29.7

Carlos Condit 6'2" and call it 180 after he hydrates 23.1

All these guys make great advantage of their height.


Yeah, I would actually argue that "BMI means diddly for everyone, not just fighters". I actually hate the BMI scale as like Robert said above, it actually has nothing to do with body composition.


Yep. BMI is useless. Almost the entire Olympic men's 8 rowing team is "overweight" or "obese" as is pretty much everybody in the NFL with the possible exception of some DB's, receivers, QB's and kickers.

Edit - The other thing about BMI is it doesn't take the width or density of your frame into account, which is a huge variable, IMO. A buddy of mine and I are the exact same height. He is noticeably more narrow and fine boned than I am. If we both had the an identical BMI and BF% we would have drastically different physiques.


The BMI doesn't say a lot about health. One think it does is tell you the relative weight of someone. Statistically, for instance, anyone who is lean with a BMI>25 is a big fucker for his height. (this means that a hydrated GSP IS big for a 5'10 dude, no matter what a BB will say).


" BMI was explicitly cited by Keys as being appropriate for population studies, and inappropriate for individual diagnosis. "

That was based off a study in 1972, numerous studies since have proven this. Why the fuck is BMI still applied on an individual basis?



He was using bmi to mean body composition I think.

Still, as a height to weight ratio, every unnecessary lb per in puts you into more dangerous territory.


Even then though, unless it's to the extreme, bf % isn't always that great of an indicator of fighting ability or even conditioning.


It may not be a good indicator, but as a competitive fighter letting yourself get heavy because some guys get away with it strikes me as an excuse for poor dietary discipline rather than a legit plan. Fedor may not have looked like an underware model, but I'm willing to bet he wasn't eating Twinkies all day either.


It would be VERY hard for a fighter who was putting work in to end up looking like big country.

I mean a dude who is 5'11/6'0 thereabout, 200+lbs is already eating a LOT of food on a day to day basis. Chuck in a professional fighters workload?

Forget about right or wrong, big country is a goddamn mystery.

That, or the answer is very simple: big country doesn't take preparation seriously (this is a nice way of saying someone who doesnt do any cardio really).


Agree, Nelson doesn't really gas out in fights. He isn't in the all star for one round than done club. He gets beaten by better skilled fighters, but I don't really think putting any of his losses on a lack of conditioning is fair.

Contrast him with Jose Aldo. Aldo is well known to fade in later rounds, Nelson not so much. For some reason Nelson looks the way he does, but it doesn't seem to be due to a complete lack of conditioning. Now, every other fatass who looks like Nelson is probably a different story.


Robert A


Oh, no argument there.


Last time i tried fighting looking like Fedor because he was my idol i gassed on the 1st round =(


Valid point. How much better would nelson be if he wasn't carrying that barrel of beer around his waist?


BMI means nothing to anyone who has a decent amount of muscle. It's a standard created for the medical professionals to be able to put average people in generalized categories of health...

Now, if you're a fat tub-o'-lard then obviously you don't need a BMI to tell you to go do a few laps.