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Report: MMA Commissioners May Allow More Knees, Kicks to Grounded Opponents

Nevada State Athletic Commission Chief Keith Kizer, who co-authored the proposed rule change.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Chief Keith Kizer, who co-authored the proposed rule change.Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Scott HarrisFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2013

A powerful umbrella group will consider MMA rule changes that would allow more kicks and knee strikes to grounded opponents.

According to a report from MMA Fighting, the Association of Boxing Commissions will, at its meeting this week, take up the idea of altering the Unified Rules of MMA. As it stands, knee strikes and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent—defined as "any fighter who has more than just the soles of their feet on the ground"—are prohibited. 

The proposed rule change would give referees greater authority to make subjective judgments about what constitutes a "grounded opponent." According to the report, the proposed rule change states:

Referees should instruct the fighters that they may still be considered a standing fighter even if they have a finger or portion of the hand (or entire hand) on the canvas. In the discretion of the referee, a fighter who has a finger or hand on the canvas may still be legally struck in the head with knees and kicks.

It is unclear whether the rule change will pass or, if passed, how referees would implement the rule during an actual fight. According to the report, ABC members are expected to vote on the measure Wednesday.

The UFC and most other major MMA promotions rely on the unified rules to determine their own policies and procedures. The proposed change was co-authored by, among others, Nevada State Athletic Commission leader Keith Kizer.


The move comes as researchers rush to fill knowledge gaps around brain injuries in combat sports and other high-risk sectors of the population.

At the same time, the proposal will surely curry favor with fighters and fight fans, who have long decried the absence of such moves under the unified rules. The defunct Pride organization, for example, was widely known for fighters who struck grounded opponents' heads with kicks and knees.

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