ABC makes several changes to unified rules of MMA

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) has approved several changed in the unified rules of professional MMA.

The main alterations are in rules of the sport that have long been criticized including the scoring criteria, the definition of a grounded fighter, and extended fingers that cause eye pokes. According to ABC president Mike Mazzulli, the changes take effect on January 1, 2017.

The scoring criteria has long been under scrutiny for being too subjective from the perspective of the scorer resulting in frequent contradictory decisions between judges. To make the criteria more definitive, the ABC has adjusted the scoring language to emphasize that effective striking and grappling are the most significant factors in the judging of a fight while cage control and aggression are secondary. 10-8 rounds were also a topic of discussion with the association urging judges to use it more often whenever a fighter displays any two of the following three criteria in a single round: dominance, duration, and damage/impact. While considered “highly unlikely,” 10-10 rounds are now allowed to be awarded by judges for even rounds.

Another aspect that was addressed was the definition of a grounded fighter. Since kicks and knees to the head are illegal against grounded opponents, fighters were often seen exploiting the rule by touching the ground with one hand. The new definition of what it means to be grounded is, “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.”

To address the recent frequency of eye-pokes, it will now be considered a foul for a fighter to move their arm in the direction of their opponent with a splayed hand. Fouls that have been removed from the rules include heel strikes to the kidneys and grabbing of the clavicle.

Complete details about the unified rules can be found here.


Jamal Khayat is a writer for RoughCopy MMA. He began his training in combat sports in 2009 and has competed as an amateur in both MMA and boxing. He is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Physics at the University of Central Florida.


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