Nothing is set in stone, even the hallowed Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.. However, following an event plagued by freak injuries and a regular stream of controversies in recent months, even the UFC (who are happy to pass the buck) are set to campaign for a change in the rules. Or at least write a letter to the ABC. In any case, we thoughts its worth asking – what would you change, if anything?
As a rule, we believe the first thing which is necessary in MMA is more cede action in the rules and more attempts made to regulate officiating in the sport. If fans understood the rules, and WHY certain things aren’t allowed, then maybe they wouldn’t boo referee calls so much.
Likewise, if judges or referees had to answer to someone – public opinion and regularly awful displays on the part of a few referees don’t seem to affect their being selected – perhaps performance levels would improve and we’d rid the sport of some of its more frustrating and unnecessary controversy.
However, off the top of our head, we can think if a few things that we’d like looked at.
1. Rules regarding strikes to the head of a downed opponent.
Unlike some, we’ve no wish to see soccer kicks and stomps return to mainstream usage, but the tendency of a great many fighters to use the rule that having one fingertip on the mat to save themselves from a knee in the face is pure gamesmanship.
It also leads to a situation where a fighter can throw a perfectly legal knee, only for their opponent to brush their fingers on the mat and either win via DQ or have an excuse to dispute any resulting loss.
That’s not in the spirit of the rules and not fair on referees.
2. Drug Testing & Bans
We believe there should be in-place rules, followed by every promotion that means fighters must be regularly, randomly tested for drugs both in and out of competition. The SACs know where the gyms are, they know fighter’s home addresses. It’s not that difficult.
Bans should be consistent and punitive. This way, we can remove the stain of drug abuse – both performance enhancing and recreational – from the sport. As a pro wrestling fan, I don’t want to see the semi-regular news that a childhood hero has died from a drug overdose or repercussions of drug use carry over into MMA.
3. Point Deductions
If a referee has to warn you about inactivity, timidity, eye pokes, holding the fence etc. for a second time, you should be automatically docked a point. Lets see all the little bits of cheating that go on in the sport cleaned out by actually punishing offenders.
4. Weigh Ins
With Nick Catone at the weekend fresh in the mind, we’ve seen far too many fighters missing weight and I’ve heard way too many stories of fighters seriously harming themselves by trying to cut too far too fast.
It’s the preserve of governing bodies to protect fighters from themselves. This could be achieved by regular weighing of registered fighters, to the point where they are not allowed to sign for a contracted fight out with 90% of their average body weight or outside 5% in the case of a late notice fight (within two weeks).
Chances are, we’d have less fights called off with injury, more entertaining bouts where guys aren’t scooped out to the nth degree and the sport would avoid the possible PR disaster of a fighter almost dying while trying to make their contracted weight.
I’ve heard some good cases for banning the use of elbows in MMA, at least on the ground. While an effective and time honoured technique, elbows can be used to inflict almost unblockable damage and give a massive advantage to fighters of a wrestling background.
If a wrestler gets top position, they can secure their opponents hands and continue to cause damage with short elbows. Of course, some might say you can avoid the takedown, but the use of half guard and elbows has been shown to negate the most accomplished jujitsu practitioner off their back.
It’s my view that on the ground, you should be looking for solid ground and pound (which exposes you to counters) or advancing position to secure a submission, not sitting in a no risk situation, winning the round with the slight possibility of a doctor stoppage for cuts.
6. Clarification of what happens in the case of certain fouls
Say you’ve been accidentally kicked in the man parts in the middle of a match. Its’s not nice, but you know you’ll get five minutes to recover. However, should get ‘accidentally’ poked in the eye (which should never happen, IMHO) and you could lose via TKO, have the bout wound up as a no contest or technical decision or given a minute to recover while the doctor makes sure you’re not going to go blind, and the bout can continue.
There shouldn’t be a question there. There should be a clear procedure allowing fighters some time to recover from all fouls, rather than random confusion to the frustration of fighters, fans and promoters. It looks amateurish.
Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head. What would you like to see changed, and why?
(Photo credit to Tommy Lakes)