UFC Exec: No Unified Rules Makes MMA a ‘Mockery’

On April 3, 2001, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board agreed on a list of rules for MMA events to be established — this in turn set what would become the unified rules of MMA. However, in recent times, these “unified rules” have broken away from the definition of unified.

Changes to the unified rules were established last year by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), and started to be put into place at the start of 2017. These changes included modifications to the scoring system (to increase chances of 10-8 rounds), disallowing the extending of fingers towards the opponent’s eyes, and most notably, the change to the definition of a grounded fighter.

While some state athletic commissions have accepted these rules changes, other states have not. This has caused concern for various MMA promotions, including the UFC, who have to explain if each host state has passed the modifications, and if so what they are, every broadcast. This has caused confusion amongst MMA fans and the fighters.

The UFC had remained relatively quiet on the issues, but Marc Ratner, the UFC’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs, recently made a statement on the matter at the ABC Conference in Connecticut, urging the athletic commissions across all states to come together and have a true unified set of rules once again.

“It’s been very tough for us, running around the country and having to talk to each commission and saying, ‘We’re using new rules, we’re not using the rules,'” Ratner said. “It’s actually made a mockery, in a lot of ways, of the sport, which I really, really hate.”

Some states that have not adopted the unified ruleset put in place at the start of 2017 include New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland. There are various reasons for not passing the new rules, but the most prominent seems to come from the definition of a grounded fighter.

Under the former unified rules, a fighter needed just one hand on the ground to be deemed grounded, causing any strikes to the head to be illegal. But under the new unified rules, a fighter must have both hands on the ground to be in such a state. This has caused some concern that it will result in more strikes to the head in a day and age where concussions, head injuries and their aftermaths are of high concern in MMA, as well as sports in general.

But, Ratner says, a sport without a true unified rules list is unfair for everyone.

“I love boxing and I love MMA,” Ratner said. “They’re both really good. But for me to have to defend the rules makes it very, very tough. It’s not fair to the fighters, it’s not fair to the officials and it’s just uncomfortable. We’re getting hurt by the media. These television networks, they actually kill us. Every time I listen to all these broadcasts and they always say, ‘What’s wrong with this state or why haven’t we done this?’

“The time has come for reconciliation and unification. That’s my little soapbox. It’s the elephant in the room.”

Original story: MMA Mania

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