Potential Unified Rule Changes Spark Disagreement Between ABC & Commissions

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A major vote regarding the unified rules of mixed martial arts will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, the fight capital of the world, today (August 2, 2016). According to MMAFighting.com’s Marc Raimondi, it’s possible that we could see the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) approve the majority of these proposed changes, although the same can’t be said for all of the commissions present at the voting. And even if the changes are passed, some states may elect to follow the lead of the ABC in their home state.

As for the potential changes, there appears to be three being discussed. First off, the definition of a ‘grounded fighter’ is in question. A ‘grounded fighter’ is referring to when a fighter places a fingertip on the canvas to avoid eating any knees or kicks to the head. In the past, a fighter could touch the mat with any part of his body other than his feet and be deemed grounded, but with the new rule, a fighter must touch the ground with both hands and either his palms or his fists to be deemed grounded.

The New Jersey Athletic Control Board appears to be the leading commission in disagreement, and executive Nick Lembo, said that New Jersey will not adopt the changes if passed. He also explained why he’s against the revision of a ‘grounded fighter’ citing the chance of increased head damage:

“I am not in favor of anything that increases head strikes, especially in light of the NFL concussion lawsuits and what we’re learning now about head injuries,” Lembo said.

Lembo instead would like to referees push fighters to shy away from using this tactic prior to a fight. The executive is also against removing the foul for heel kicks to the kidney, a strike not typically seen in MMA, although Lembo noted that kidney strikes are outlawed in boxing.

Finally, the MMA Rules & Regulations committee would like to implement the word ‘damage’ into the official judging criteria. Damage has been a debatable topic for quite some time now regarding judging in combat sports, but Lembo doesn’t appear to be too fond of his proposal either:

“[NJSACB commissioner] Larry Hazzard has said, ‘If I have to tell my judges that they need to take damage into account for scoring, then I have the wrong judges,'” Lembo said.

How do you feel about these potential rule changes?