ABC Approves Changes For MMA Scoring, Eye Pokes & Grounded Fighters

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The unified rules of MMA certainly did a great job of making the sport somewhat ‘safer’ for fighters, but did leave a number of grey areas that were open to discussion. The term ‘grounded fighter’ has led to much debate, with many combatants exposing the fact that they needed to only have one hand touching the canvas in order to avoid kicks or knees to the head. Quite a frustrating rule, but perhaps the least in terms of influence of a fight’s outcome.

We’ve seen quite a few fights ended in no-contest or disqualification due to knees and kicks to the head of grounded fighters. This area of fighting under the unified rules, as well as eye pokes and the criteria for scoring fights were all under the microscope this week as the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) approved a number of definite rule changes.

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Say goodbye to eye pokes, hopefully…
There had been some controversy over eye pokes, so the ABC ruled that even holding out the hand with fingers extended in standing position is now to be considered a foul. Also the scoring criteria now has definite descriptions of how to score rounds 10-9, 10-8 or 10-7. Damage, octagon control and effective striking have all been explained fully. We can also wave goodbye to female tank top in the octagon, as the ABC rules that only short sleeve rash guards are now acceptable.

As quoted by MMAFghting.com:

Grounded fighter

A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands and feet, palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed.

Extended fingers

In the standing position, a fighter that moves their arm(s) toward their opponent with an open hand, fingers pointing at the opponent’s face/eyes, will be a foul. Referees are to prevent this dangerous behavior by communicating clearly to fighters. Fighters are directed to close their fists or point their fingers straight in the air when reaching toward their opponent.

Female clothing

Female competitors must wear a short-sleeved (above the elbow) or sleeveless form-fitting rash guard and/or sports bra. No loose-fitting tops are allowed. Female competitors will follow the same requirements for bottom coverings as the male competitors, minus the requirement for groin protection.

Proposed MMA judging criteria by Luke Thomas on Scribd