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ABC Passes Vote to Change the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts

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We have all seen it before. A fighter makes like a tri-pod when in a front face lock, touching one hand or even a finger to the canvas to avoid being kneed into next week. He might catch the knee anyway and get rocked so bad he ends up with a DQ win to the dismay of both the crowd and his opponent. A fighter has his opponent hurt and rushes in throwing hay makers like a mad man, only to be met with an extended finger that catches him in the eye so hard it would make Moe from the three stooges envious. Some fans may have caught themselves wondering why one technique is legal, while a similar technique or strike is considered a foul. Well those days are now over.

These rules changes have been being talked about since the beginning of the year and yesterday the MMA rules and regulations committee, represented by their speaker “Big’ John McCarthy, met with the ABC at their 28th annual Conference held at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and proposed the plan to alter some of the rules currently in place under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

Tuesday the Association of Boxing Commission (ABC) voted on and approved several changes to the Unified of Mixed Martial Arts. This is a historic vote that marks the biggest change to the rule book of how MMA is governed since it was first written back in 2000. Several rules were amended by the vote including changes to verbiage of how to judge a fight, a redefinition of what constituents a grounded fighter, standardized apparel allowed to be worn by women competitors, fouls that were previously banned under the old rules and a new rule that will make eye pokes less frequent.

These amendments were first passed by the ABC’s rules and regulations committee a well as their medical committee before being voted on at the ABC’s annual conference. The results were nothing short of a landslide as the measures passed with a vote of 42 to 1. The states of Tennessee and Mississippi abstained for voting and the only state opposed to the changes was New Jersey whose Athletic Control Board deputy commissioner Rhonda Uttley-Herring stood firm to statements that she made on Monday when she stated that her state opposed some of the changes, particularly the ones regarding grounded opponents and heel kicks to the kidneys. Her opinion is that some the changes could potentially encourage more kicks and knees to the head and result in more injured fighters.

Monday Uttley-Herring boldly stated:

“I tried to tell this body…It’s not in the best interest of the fighters.”

When asked Monday if New Jersey would adopt all of the rules changes if they were passed on Tuesday’s vote Uttley-Herring emphatically stated:

“Absolutely not, we will not.”

Some state’s commissions will be able to implement the new rules immediately however due to the way other state’s athletic regulatory bodies are set up, some states will have to traverse the bureaucratic red tape before they are allowed to implement the new rules.

One of the most sought after rule changes from a fan and fighter perspective is the clarification of the scoring criteria. The change to how fights are to be scored makes it clear that effective striking and grappling are the two top criteria for how to judge who won a round and only if those things are equal does a judge take into consideration aggression and ring or cage generalship. A 10-8 round will be more liberally given as a score and will be based on dominance, duration and impact or “damage” (the word damage was replaced by impact under the new rule change). The new rules direct judges that if two of those criteria are overwhelmingly in the favor of one fighter, a 10-8 should be considered and if a fighter has established all three of them with in a round, then it must be a 10-8 round. Another amendment was added directs judges to weigh the initial impact of a strike heavier than the cumulative damage done by them over the duration of a round.

Below is a more lengthy release of the approved judging criteria:

Judging Criteria/Scoring

The following is the proposed update to the MMA Judging Criteria. This criterion will work extremely well within the current 10 Point Must System of numeric scoring AND will also work very well if some form of numerical half point scoring becomes implemented in the future. Proposed Judging Criterion & Definitions: Evolve the Mixed Martial Arts Judging Criteria. Simplify the criterion to focus on the result of action (versus action itself). It needs to be stated that criteria is to be used in specific order and may not move from one criterion to another without the prior criterion being 100% even in the judges’ assessments. In other words, Effective Striking/Grappling will render the high majority of rendered assessments. Effective Aggressiveness is a ‘plan B’ and should not be considered unless the judge does not see ANY advantage in the Effective Striking/Grappling realm. Cage/Ring Control (‘plan C’) should only be needed when ALL other criteria are 100% even for both competitors. This will be an extremely rare occurrence. Effective Aggressiveness and Fighting Area Control are back up plans, should the effect of striking/grappling be 100% equal for both competitors. Criteria may not be mixed and matched to assess a result. 1. Effective Striking/Grappling: -“Effective Striking is judged by determining the impact or damage of legal strikes landed by a contestant solely based on the results of such legal strikes. Effective Grappling is assessed by the successful executions and an impactful/damaging result coming from: takedown(s), submission attempt(s), achieving an advantageous position(s) and reversal(s).” Top and bottom position fighters are assessed more on the impactful/damaging result of their actions, more so than their position. This criterion will be the deciding factor in a high majority of decisions when scoring a round. The next two criteria must be treated as a backup plan and used ONLY when Effective Striking/Grappling is 100% equal for the round. 2. Effective Aggressiveness: – “Aggressively making attempts to finish the fight. “The key term here is ‘effective’. Chasing around an opponent with no result, impact or damage should not render in the judges’ assessments. Effective Aggressiveness is only to be assessed if Effective Striking/Grappling is 100% equal for both competitors. 3. Fighting Area Control: – “Fighting area control is assessed by determining who is dictating the pace, place and position of the bout.”

– Examples of factors to consider are: imposing successful position in the cage when fighters are standing separated, controlling an effective clinch or position for a takedown attempt, achieving and controlling dominant/semi-dominant ground position. Fighting Area Control is only to be assessed if Effective Striking/Grappling and Effective Aggressiveness is 100% equal for both competitors. This will be assessed very rarely. Round Scoring 10–10 Round A 10 – 10 round in MMA is when both fighters have competed for whatever duration of time in the round and there is no difference or advantage between either fighter. A 10 – 10 round in MMA is a necessity to have for the judge’s possible score. It is possible to have a round where both fighters engage for 5 minutes and at the end of the 5-minute time period the output, damage, effectiveness and overall competition between the two fighters is exactly the same. It is possible, but highly unlikely. If there is any discernable difference between the two fighters during the round the judge shall not give the score of 10 – 10 10–9 Round A 10 – 9 Round in MMA is where one combatant wins the round by a close margin. A 10 – 9 round in MMA is the most common score a judge will make during the night. If, during the Round, the judge sees a fighter land the better strikes, or utilize effective grappling during the competition even if by just one technique over their opponent, the judge shall give the winning fighter a score of 10 while assessing the losing fighter a score of 9 or less. It is imperative that judges understand that a score of 9 is not an automatic numerical score given to the losing fighter of the round. The judge must consider was the fighter engaged in offensive actions during the round. Did the losing fighter compete with an attitude of attempting to win the fight or just to survive the offensive actions of their opponent? A score of 10 – 9 can reflect an extremely close round or a round of marginal domination. 10–8 Round A 10 – 8 Round in MMA is where one fighter wins the round by a large margin. A 10 – 8 round in MMA is not the most common score a judge will render, but it is absolutely essential to the evolution of the sport and the fairness to the fighters that judges understand and effectively utilize the score of 10 – 8. A score of 10 – 8 does not require a fighter to dominate their opponent for 5 minutes of a round. The score of 10 – 8 is utilized by the judge when the judge sees verifiable results on the part of both or either fighter. If a fighter has little to no offensive output during a 5 minute round, it should be normal for the judge to award the losing fighter 8 points instead of 9. When assessing a score of 10-8, judges shall evaluate Damage, Dominance, and Duration and, if two of the 3 are assessed to have been present, a 10-8 score shall be considered. If all three are present, a 10-8 score shall be awarded. Damage – A judge shall assess if a fighter damages their opponent significantly in the round, even though they may not have dominated the action. Damage includes visible evidence such as swellings and lacerations. Damage shall also be assessed when a fighter’s actions, using striking and/or grappling, lead to a diminishing of their opponents’ energy, confidence, abilities and spirit. All of these come as a direct result of damage. When a fighter is damaged with strikes, by lack of control and/or ability, this can create defining moments in the round and shall be assessed with great value. Dominance – As MMA is an offensive based sport, dominance of a round can be seen in striking when the losing fighter is forced to continually defend, with no counters or reaction taken when openings present themselves. Dominance in the grappling phase can be seen by fighters taking dominant positions in the fight and utilizing those positions to attempt fight ending submissions or attacks. Merely holding a dominant position(s) shall not be a primary factor in assessing dominance. What the fighter does with those positions is what must be assessed. Duration – Duration is defined by the time spent by one fighter effectively attacking and controlling their opponent, while the opponent offers little to no offensive output. A judge shall assess duration by recognizing the relative time in a round when one fighter takes and maintains full control of the effective offense. This can be assessed both standing and grounded. 10–7 Round A 10 – 7 Round in MMA is when a fighter completely overwhelms their opponent in Effective Striking and/or Grappling and stoppage is warranted. A 10 – 7 round in MMA is a score that judges will rarely give. It takes not only overwhelming DOMINANCE of the round, but also significant DAMAGE that can, at times make the judge assess that the fight could be stopped. Judges should be looking for multiple blows that diminish the fighter or grappling maneuvers that place the fighter in dominant situations with damage being inflicted that is visibly diminishing the losing fighter’s ability to compete.”

As for the grounded fighter rule change it was redefined to state:

“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.”

Under the previous rule a fighter only needed one hand, or any other body part to be touching the canvas to make them considered a grounded fighter. There had been many fighters using this stipulation to avoid being kneed or kicked in the head when for all intensive purposes they are on their feet. Referees had described such tactics as touching one finger to the ground as “playing the game.” Given the position that the fighters are in at the time, the aggressor is not able to see what position their foes hands are in and this lead to a foul being called and the fight stopped momentarily while the affected party recovers, or halted all together and ruled a disqualification win due to the foul.

Another hot topic and one of the biggest rule changes dealt with extended fingers that have the potential to poke a fighter in the eyes. Eye pokes have always been a problem in MMA and you do not have to be a genius to figure out that it is due to the fact that the fighters are wearing finger-less gloves. The new rule states:

“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.”

As with any other foul where a fighter is warned, repeat infractions after being warned could result in a point deduction even if they have not actually poked their opponent in the eye yet.

One of the topic that has flown under the radar for a number of year dealt with the clothing of female fighters. This rule change makes it clear what female competitors are and are not allowed to wear during competitions:

“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.”

Two technique that were previously deemed as fouls have now been changed as well. Heel strikes to the kidneys and the grabbing of the clavicle will once again be allowed under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts however as promised on Monday, New Jersey will not approve or implement these new rule changes.

New Jersey State Athletic Control Board counsel Nick Lembo seconded deputy commissioner Rhonda Uttley-Herring statements on Monday in a press release Tuesday morning:

“Absent overwhelming medical evidence, we are not in favor of any type of expansion of striking to the head, let alone a change that would allow powerful, potent knees to the head of a downed fighter, We should be wary of the NFL litigation, NHL and WWE head injury issues, and we should not be hasty with regard to matters involving the human brain and it’s well being.”

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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