In a potential sea-change for North American MMA, the heads of three of the most active and influential athletic commissions in the United States will be presenting a plan to change the definition of what constitutes a “grounded opponent” in the context of mixed martial arts competition.
Association of Boxing Commissions to examine new rules for grounded fighters
MMA Junkie released information on this new proposal earlier today.
Keith Kizer, Bernie Profato, and Nick Lembo – of the Nevada, Ohio, and New Jersey state athletic commissions, respectively – will be appearing before the board of the Association of Boxing Commissions later this week to propose making changes. Their concern, as stated in a letter obtained by MMA Junkie, are that too many people are “playing the rules” in order to draw fouls. In fact, there is a passage in their correspondence that emphasizes this.
Recently, some concern has arose over fighters who are taking punishment (usually thru knees) while both fighters are standing. The fighter then begins to bring his or her finger(s) down and up again, and then down again as a strike is being delivered. In certain situations, it appears as if the ‘touching down’ fighter is attempting to draw a foul and benefit from the foul.
It’s a good thing when people in positions like those held by Profato, Lembo, and Kizer take note of people not only attempting to draw fouls on their opponents, but are taking steps to correct it. The three executive directors even recommended steps to be taken to give referees some leeway in determining whether an offense has taken place, as well punish fighters who attempt to draw these fouls.
Referees should instruct the fighters that they may still be considered a standing fighter even if they have a finger or portion of the hand (or entire hand) on the canvas. In the discretion of the referee, a fighter who has a finger or hand on the canvas may still be legally struck in the head with knees and kicks. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is placing his or her finger or hand down without doing so for an offensive or countering maneuver in an attempt to advance or improve their position. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is instead simply trying to draw a foul. If the referee decides that the fighter is “touching down” simply to benefit from a foul, the referee may consider that fighter a standing fighter and decide that no foul has occurred.
Additionally, a referee may penalize, via warning or point deduction, the offending fighter for timidity.
We as MMA fans can only hope that the Association of Boxing Commissions, who oversee all of the state athletic commissions in America, will agree to this change to the Unified Rule of Mixed Martial Arts. It would eliminate part of the gamesmanship that you see from fighters like Josh Koscheck and John Dodson, and allow more opportunities for aggressive fighters to score finish victories. Please keep it locked to MMASucka.com for more on this story as it develops.