MMA fighter using birth control to cut weight

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino steps on the scale. The readout puts her at about 20 pounds over the 140-pound limit for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 95 in Brazil.

Weight cuts are nothing new to combat sports. But the solution provided by her diet coach in a video posted on Justino’s YouTube channel on Tuesday was seemingly new: birth control.

“Cris kind of had an issue with the birth control I put her on,” nutritional consultant George Lockhart said in the video. “Some of the problems she was wondering about was it making her lose muscle, lose strength, maybe lose some of her aggressiveness. One of the issues she faced last camp was that she had strong periods, so I wanted to put her on birth control.”

Lockhart, a former MMA fighter, has worked with some of the biggest names in UFC, including Conor McGregor, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. But he’s not a medical doctor and cannot prescribe birth control. He’s also not a registered dietician — and even then such professionals can only dispense diet advice and suggest supplements.

“It’s my body,” Justino said in the video. “Not your body."

Despite her objections, Lockhart told USA TODAY Sports that Justino remains on birth control ahead her bout against Lina Lansberg.

“When you start taking birth control, it can throw your hormones out of whack as your body gets used to it,” Lockhart said in a phone interview. “She’s not happy, but the same thing can happen with the hormones when you stop taking birth control.”

Because Justino entered fight week so far above weight, UFC instituted guidelines aimed at keeping fighters from using potentially dangerous methods to lose weight.

“I’m checking my weight now all the time, and the UFC is helping, making sure everything is OK," she told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “(On Monday) they saw I was really heavy, and they wanted to make sure I have a good cut. They don’t want me to be worse. They want me to be healthy.”

Lockhart said he will advise Justino to withdraw if she doesn’t hit certain benchmarks during the week. While he described the weight cut to 140 pounds as “the hardest cut ever,” he said he is “very confident” she will make the limit.

Lockhart’s statements regarding birth control in the video infuriated Mike Dolce, another one of the top diet gurus in the sport.

“He’s not legally authorized to do this,” Dolce told USA TODAY Sports.  “Cris has been known for missing weight and she gets knocked around for by fans and others for that. I feel bad for her. Lockhart is leaving himself up to legal and civil liability issues. He’s not a registered dietician, so he can’t even suggest this kind of stuff.”

UFC said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports: "We've been in communication with Cris and her team and will be monitoring the situation closely with her health and safety in mind."

Lockhart said his primary concern is looking after Justino’s health and safety when it comes to the difficult process of cutting weight.

“If somebody had to go to the hospital on my time, how does that look?” Lockhard said. “Not only from a moral standpoint, but obviously Cris is a close friend, but also in terms of a business standpoint, it doesn’t look really good.”



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