Changes may well be coming soon for the UFC and many other mixed martial arts promotions. Following a number of recent meetings, the Association of Boxing Commissions & Combative Sports brings about some interesting news. Firstly, and most importantly, the ABC passed a recommendation for use of instant replays in certain circumstances. Similar to Football and other sports, referees would be able to consult instant replays to determine if a foul or illegal tactic led to a ‘fight ending sequence.’
The vote for instant replay was 7-0 for, with one abstention. Bloody Elbow first reported these recommendations, and MMAFighting.com had comments from commissioner Sean Wheelock on the matter. Another interesting, and somewhat gross proposal is to score a TKO loss if a fighter loses the use of bowel movements. All details below:
Fouls & Bowels
“(Officials) may only use Instant Replay when he/she feels that a “Fight Ending Sequence” was possibly caused by an illegal action (foul) whether intentional or unintentional.”
“Once reviewing the replay the referee can either confirm or dispel whether a foul was committed that brought about the fight ending sequence and take the appropriate actions from there,” the rule states.
“We wanted to do it where it had very strict, narrow criteria,” Wheelock said. “I think for this to work, you have to have parameters.”
“It was more of a matter of us looking at ways to improve the sport and looking at other sports,” Wheelock said. … “If this technology is there, why not use it?”
UFC 207 Means vs. Oliveira
During UFC 207, the use of instant replay would’ve come in handy. There was some dispute as to whether Alex Oliveira was deemed a ‘grounded opponent’ during his fight against Tim Means. The grounded opponent definition itself has recently been reconstructed, as has the definition of a fighter who is ‘unable to continue’ due to loss of bowel control. Explaining the proposal further, the rule change would allow officials to rule a fighter TKO’d if they ‘vomit, urinate or lose bowel control’ during a fight:
If a fighter loses control of a bodily function in between rounds, the ringside physician would be called. If not cleared to continue, the fighter would lose by TKO.
The committee explicitly noted a certain substance that automatically ends a fight. “If fecal matter becomes apparent at any time, the bout shall be halted by the referee, and the offending combatant shall lose the contest by TKO.”
The impetus for the bodily function rule change came from a 2015 pro-am event at a roller-skating rink in Topeka, Kansas. One fighter was on the way to a dominant victory but vomited all over the mat in between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Wheelock thought it was a biohazard and the fight should be stopped, but he didn’t know exactly what to do.
Full Explanation of Instant Replay Use
Instant Replay Use in Mixed Martial Arts Competition
The use of Instant Replay in MMA must be set under parameters that insure fairness in the match and a proper outcome at the conclusion of the fight. Instant Replay may not be possible in some smaller shows that are not being videotaped.
Due to the complexities involved in the sport of MMA, the referee may only use Instant Replay when he/she feels that a “Fight Ending Sequence” was possibly caused by an illegal action; whether intentional or unintentional. At such a time the referee and only the referee may call for a review of the last moments of the fight. Once reviewing the replay the referee can either confirm or dispel whether a foul was committed that brought about the fight ending sequence and take the appropriate actions from there.
It should be noted that Instant Replay is not to be used to review the actions of the referee. Examples of this include:
1. Was the fight was stopped at the right moment?
2. Was there a tap?
3. Did a fighter commit a foul that did not bring about an end to the fight?
If a referee utilizes instant replay, the information obtained from the replay cannot be used to restart the fight as the fight is officially over and may not be resumed.
The sole purpose of Instant Replay in MMA is to allow the referee to make a correct call on the outcome of the fight in calling:
1. A winner of the match
2. Having the fight go to the judge’s scorecards for a Technical Decision
3. Is the fight going to be a “No Contest”?
Pros & Cons
Obviously change brings positives and negatives. Regarding the instant replay rule, mostly this is a positive change. Thankfully we should see less controversial endings to fights, but there are negative impacts, albeit not to fighters and fans. The promotion will potentially have to factor in added time on an already tight schedule for replay analysis.
Addressing the ‘bowel control TKO,’ this can certainly improve health and safety of fighters and officials. Although it’s not the most common occurrence, it certainly does happen. Also on the docket was an approved across-the-board standard for hand wraps. Unfortunately the oft-debated 12-to-6 elbows will not be addressed in 2017.