I recently posted a poll posing the question "of all the things in MMA that require changing, what should be at the top of the list?" And with all things requiring a strong and passionate opinion not only did you guys answer, but you brought up some great points and asked some solid questions yourself regarding some of the topics.
With that said I'm going to attempt to extend this discussion further into this article and hope that we can bring in some more perspectives and opinions on the matter. We're all big fans of the sport and know the majority of the rules, fighters, organizations, history, techniques and so on, so let's go through the list of potential changes that we've been discussing as MMA fans for years and pick them apart one by one.
What are the possibilities? Where do we start? How do we implement it? What is the best way to go about fixing it? I'm going to attempt to answer all of these questions below, and as always don't forget that these are simply a summary of my own personal opinion on each topic, although I can assure you both logic and experience are being used to the highest degree.
Of all the things they could and should eventually address, I would agree that finding a solution to limit and decrease the amount of eye pokes would be at the very top of my list for the simple reason of safety and career longevity. As fans we all know that on many ocassions some of these fighters haven't had a very long career as it is. With that said I wouldn't want that window to be cut even shorter due to something as stupid and frustrating as an eye poke.
With the proper solutions, this is an issue that could be effected positively if changes were to be implemented immediately or very soon by both the commission and the UFC.
As far as the solution goes, I'm no expert so I'm not 100% sure what should be done as far as glove design, but from experience I would suggest experimenting with a design similar to an open sparring or kickboxing-style glove but with a built in mold that that forces your hand to curve and points your fingers down, yet still allows you to grip while keeping your hands dextrous and mobile.
Fighters like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones have a style that relies upon using the lead hand to gauge distance and timing, so ultimately fighters who use that style would be affected by this change the most, although it would keep fighters digits hidden and ultimately decrease the frequency of eye pokes. The gloves however would most likely have to be slightly larger, but again, I'm no expert so we'll just have to see what the UFC and the commission put together.
As far as rules and regulations in the cage regarding eye pokes, fighters should get a minimum of 1-2 minutes of recuperation time after they've been poked in the eye. That's a regulation that's easy to change and should be implemented effective immediately. The change harms no individual in any way, yet it protects the fighter and gives them an opportunity to properly recover. Because at the end of the day, who wants to see a fighter win or lose via eye poke??
Yellow Cards / Warning For Inactivity
While many I've spoken to are against the idea, I've spoken with others who feel very strongly about this change. I also wouldn't be surprised if most of the fans in support of this topic were former fans of Pride, for the simple reason that they found a way to make it effective without it feeling like it unbalanced the fight between the two athletes involved.
I personally like the idea, but I'd want it to be something that's rarely used. Only in extreme circumstances would I want the fighters to be punished for inactivity. In my opinion they should be warned twice and on the 3rd, either be deducted a point or a percentage of their purse. And inactivity is a word that should be heavily debated and carefully decided upon before it is printed in ink in the unified rule book. I'm not quite sure what it's exact definition should be, but I would probably start with volume of strikes thrown per minute or an even lesser period of time.
While I completely respect and love the feeling out process and strategy that goes into fighting, fighters are there to fight. Although at the same time I also love the anticipation of a good feeling out process in a big fight just before the first big and significant blows are exchanged, so maybe don't apply the rule to the first round and then implement it for the 2nd to the 5th, in order to let the fight find it's groove and not force it to be something it isn't.
While the ultimate goal of the rule would be to benefit the fans, I'm sure the athletes would also want to put on a good show and feel like they spent a solid 15-25 minutes battling hard instead of avoiding damage the entire time by not engaging their opponent. Athlete's are just there to win and are razor focused on that goal, so a yellow card or warning system could be exactly what some fighters need in order to light a fire under them and get them on their toes pressing forward.
They definitely need to do something with this and soon. This is a topic that's been discussed since the UFC started to become a legitimate and regulated sport, so at this point we're going to reach a moment in time where we need to either "crap or get off the pot" so to speak. But the issue is that this is no simple feat or task to accomplish.
I believe that the athletic commission should create a research team or focus group if you will, comprised of experts with years of experience in and around the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Referee's, fighters, promoters and media, maybe even some well known fans should be included. Put them all into one room, throw the boxing style 10-point must system right out the window and start from scratch with some fresh and creative ideas pertaining specifically to MMA with a system that covers all of it's bases and areas.
Perhaps a system that utilizes the judging of more specific areas, such as amount of submissions attempted, guard passes, takedowns, aggression, strikes landed, volume and so on. Score each out of 5 or even 10, add them all together and score either each round individually or the entire fight as a whole giving it a total sum of points added up from every category. Almost like the system used for gymnastics or figure skating where they judge things like creativity, control, balance, etc.
Regarding the focus group however, it is of the utmost importance that we leave out anyone having any origins in boxing or coming from a boxing background. This is the sport of fighting not punching, it is it's own sport entirely and encompases all forms of combat and fighting skills, making it simply too complex and intricate for an individual experienced solely or predominantly in boxing to decided upon.
Besides, would it make sense for Lebron James to be given a say on the scoring system for Olympic figure skating? I didn't think so.
This is a very complex and heated topic, so I'm not going to touch on it too much, I'm simply going to say that I never understood the purpose of making a fighter put their body and health at risk 24 or 48 hours previous to a fight in order to obtain a weight advantage over their opponent or in general.
I'm of the school of thought that a fighter should fight at the weight of the division that they are in. If Georges St. Pierre weighs 185lbs during his camp, than he should step into the octagon as a Middleweight. Mind you there are some exceptions to be made as all human beings do not naturally hover at the same weight, so in the case of a fighter who naturally weighs a little bit above or below the divisions limit, he/she should have to monitor his weight throughout the duration of his/her training camp in order to be on the mark the day of the fight.
Ultimately I do feel that fighters should weigh-in either the day of the fight or even at the prep point just before they step into the octagon. No more insane weight cuts, no more brain, liver and kidney damage, no more shedding of vital water-weight needed for your body to function properly and ultimately less issues as far as missing weight goes.
If everyone fought at their natural weight or close to it, we'd rarely have to worry about belts no longer being on the line, purses being deducted or size advantages between two opponents.
This is a sub-topic I decided to add that gets on my nerves. I just had to mention it but this will be quick. I basically just wish I could yell out... Hey Dana White! Pay your god damn fighters more money! You make approximately $50-$65 per PPV buy, you on average sell at least 500,000 buys and that's more representative of the less successful shows if anything.
Taking the lower price point of $50 at the modest amount of 500,000 buys, that nets you $25 Million dollars. I can't imagine staffing, venue and production costs being more than $10 Million dollars, and yet you're alotting approximately $2 Million dollars to an ENTIRE CARD of fighters?? What the hell is that about??? I don't care how much you claim to give them behind the scenes, you should be paying them at least quadruple that amount up front and on paper.
As much as the UFC is a lucrative brand that allows the fighters to be marketed and given the opportunity to be successful and advertise themselves, the UFC wouldn't mean a damn thing without the talent that steps into the octagon and bleeds for them on a weekly basis. Half of your revenue stream should be paid to the fighters without hesitation. So again... Pay your god damn fighters you cheap SOB's.
That's it for me! Hope you enjoyed the article. Please do let me know what you think, I'm very interested to read everyones opinions and perspectives on each topic. I know it was a long one but thanks for your time. Leave a comment below and let's get this discussion going.