NYSAC Approves Instant Replay For MMA

Following the controversial ending of Gegard Mousasi and Chris Weidman at UFC 210, the New York State Athletic Commission has allowed for instant replay to be utilized in Mixed Martial Arts.

The situation that allowed for instant replay occurred when Mousasi hit Weidman with what referee Dan Miragliotta thought, in real time, were illegal knees. So, Miragliotta halted the action when Weidman appeared rocked. As the ringside doctor checked on Weidman, Miragliotta polled alternate referee John McCarthy, who was on the outside of the Octagon. McCarthy told him that Mousasi’s knees were actually legal — both of Weidman’s hands were not down on the canvas at impact.

The NYSAC doctor determined that Weidman could not continue, which caused Miragliotta to stop the fight and  ruled the bout a TKO for Mousasi. Weidman was visibly upset and so was the crowd in Buffalo. The UFC commentators were fired up, because they said New York didn’t have a policy for instant replay, so how could Miragliotta’s initial decision been overturned?

The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), who have been trying to convert their rules and by-laws to MMA, which was only approved in 2016, will try to avoid another situation like that in the future with the adoption of a firm policy for instant replay, which was voted on and implemented October 4th. Newsday was the first to report the policy.

When asked for comment, the executive director of the commission, Kim Sumbler claimed that

“We looked at what happened in the Mousasi fight… We realized that we needed to be very clear on how and when [instant replay] could be used.”

In a similar vein to the instant replay guidelines that were approved in July by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), NYSAC’s policy will only be for fight-ending sequences. The in-ring referee will be able to view the replay to “determine the correct outcome of the bout.” It can only be used after the the fight is over and before the official announcement has been given. A bout cannot be restarted regardless of what the replay shows.

Per the policy, the in-ring referee is the only one able to view the replay, but they can consult with the alternate referee about a decision. The in-ring referee remains the only person able to give a final decision on the result of the fight.

Even with the use of instant replay immediately after the end of the fight, the policy notes that it would not restrict the commission’s ability to look at video evidence “to determine the correct outcome after the final official outcome of a bout has been announced in the ring.” In other words, if an appeal is filed, the commission has the authority to go back and look at a replay of the fight to decipher whether or not the real-time decision was a correct one or not.

“We’re really comfortable with it,” Sumbler said of the policy.

“We took a little bit of time and did a lot of background research on it to try to come up with the best policy language that allows for instant replay to be used exactly how we want it to be used. Our intent is to ensure that it is only used for the purpose of determining the correct outcome of a bout. I don’t want it to be used for any other purpose.”

Sumbler, who became executive director of the commission over the summer, said the NYSAC is very much willing to adapt and make changes to policies, especially since MMA is a new sport — for the commission and in general, compared to boxing. New York has only regulated mixed martial arts for a little more than a year.

“MMA is so completely different, because it’s a 360-degree sport,…It’s constantly evolving and we believe we have to evolve with it.”

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