UFC Rules: Will Changes to the Unified Rules Help MMA?
Change is coming to MMA.
A sport long chastised for inept judging and questionable rulings, mixed martial arts is gearing up for a long overdue alteration to its core thanks to the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) that govern the sport in America.
The Unified Rules of MMA are those which have allowed it to be regulated and prosper. When you see a fighter warned for grabbing the shorts, lose a point for a foul or celebrate a victory by knockout, all are borne of the Unified Rules. If it happens in the cage or ring at the professional level, chances are it's happening under those guidelines.
Definitely so in the big leagues, such as the UFC or Strikeforce.
The rules, however, have long been a sore point for fans and pundits alike. In many ways, they’ve long been outdated, a product of an era when the sport was fighting just to exist and many commissioners and political minds were looking to run as far away from it as possible.
The result has been some bizarre dos and don’ts for athletes competing, plenty of judges who have become known for ineptitude rather than not known at all (the ideal state for a judge or referee), and more than one decision that got booed out of the building.
However, with the sport working ever closer to becoming mainstream and on the heels of one of the biggest growth spurts any sport has ever enjoyed over the past five years, the ABC finally sat down and took a look at how it was governing mixed martial arts.
They seem to now realize that MMA isn’t boxing, and as such perhaps striking isn’t the only way a fighter can be successful.
They seem to realize that controlling the cage or ring, while important, may not be as important as initially thought.
They seem to realize that, unlike the world of untrained streetfighting, professional mixed martial artists can, in fact, win a fight from his or her back. Some actually prefer to do it that way.
There are plenty of other notable changes, some of which can be seen here. The bottom line, though, is that this is a very good thing for the sport.
It seems at last as though there may be some traction in cleaning up a sport that desperately needed it. Fighters avoiding the fight, lay-and-pray artists, and other such individuals trying to game the system and eke out the occasional win and a few bucks for a night’s work are not going to find it so easy going forward.
Rules as they’re written, however, are only as powerful as they’re implemented. Judges and referees still need to be properly educated on the nuances of the sport, and a system of checks and balances needs to be in place to prevent those who aren’t doing their jobs well from doing them at all.
Still, that’s another discussion for another day. For now, let’s all be happy that changes many have begged for since the early 2000s may finally be seen in the near future.
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