Latest changes to MMA scoring criteria and new rules
According to MMAFighting, the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) approved a package of rules changes Tuesday that amount to the greatest alterations to MMA’s Unified Rules since their inception. The new rules include clearer language for judging and a redefinition of what makes a fighter grounded.
The most significant change is more clarity in the scoring criteria, long a bugaboo for fans and fighters alike. The new scoring language underscores that effective striking and grappling are the top tier for judging rounds — and only if those things are equal do you judge aggression and then cage control.
The definition of a 10-8 round is also more liberal with the changes, asking judges to look at dominance, duration and impact (or damage). If a round has two of those characteristics, a 10-8 should be considered. If a round has all three of those characteristics, it must be a 10-8 round.
The scoring language was amended in discussion Tuesday to address the presence of the word “damage.” New Jersey took issue with that word on a political and legal level as did others, including Bellator MMA head of regulatory affairs Cory Schafer. The word damage will still be used in training judges, but it will not be part of public rules due to the implication.
There was also an amendment of the language to reflect that the immediate impact of strikes is weighed heavier than cumulative impact (or damage).
The other rules changes, with the official language, are as follows:
Grounded fighter – a grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands and feet, palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed.
Extended fingers – in the standing position, a fighter that moves their arm(s) toward their opponent with an open hand, fingers pointing at the opponent’s face/eyes, will be a foul. Referees are to prevent this dangerous behavior by communicating clearly to fighters. Fighters are directed to close their fists or point their fingers straight in the air when reaching toward their opponent.
Female clothing – female competitors must wear a short-sleeved (above the elbow) or sleeveless form-fitting rash guard and/or sports bra. No loose-fitting tops are allowed. Female competitors will follow the same requirements for bottom coverings as the male competitors, minus the requirement for groin protection.
The changes also remove two fouls from the MMA Unified Rules: heel strikes to the kidneys and the grabbing of the clavicle.