Differences detailed in the application of the Unified Rules

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

From the desk of Adam Roorbach, Boxing Commissioner, Kansas Department of Commerce

In 2016 at the yearly convention of the Association of Boxing Commissions, members of the ABC voted overwhelmingly to adopt the changes to the Unified Rules of MMA put forward by the MMA Rules and Regulations committee. The rules committee, chaired by Kansas Athletic Commission member Sean Wheelock, included John McCarthy, Randy Couture, Jeremy Horn, and Dr. David Watson. The committee set out to make revisions to the Unified Rules for the first time since their inception in 2001.

The committee put forward five changes to the Unified Rules of MMA:
•Changing the definition of a downed fighter
•Changes to the approved apparel for female fighters
•Removing grabbing the clavicle as a foul
•Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul
•Added advancing towards your opponents’ eyes with outstretched fingers as a foul

Voting on the changes as one package (without objection), the membership of the ABC voted 42-1 in favor of the changes, with one abstention (Tennessee) and one absence (Mississippi).

In 2018, the Rules and Regulations committee put forward two recommendations to the Unified Rules of MMA. It should be noted that these are “recommendations” only, and did not change the Unified Rules of MMA in any way:
•The use of instant replay in fight ending sequences.
•Greasing between rounds for any reason.

Of the 46 commissions responding to the survey conducted by the Kansas Athletic Commission on behalf of the ABC, 31 follow the Unified Rules of MMA:
Alabama
Arizona
Brazil – CABMMA
Calgary
California
Chickasaw Nation
Connecticut
Florida
Georgia
Grand Prairie^
Hawaii Idaho*
Indiana^
Iowa
Kansas
Massachusetts
Minnesota^
Mohegan Sun
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New York
North Dakota
Oregon^
Red Lake
Rhode Island^
St. Croix^
South Dakota^
Tennessee*
Utah
Wisconsin^
Wyoming

* - Working towards implementation.
^ - Do not utilize instant replay in fight-ending sequences.

The following commission do not follow the Unified Rules of MMA:
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Michigan
Mille Lacs Band
Missouri
Nevada
New Jersey
Oklahoma
Ontario
Pennsylvania
Texas
Virginia
Washington
Wichita Tribe
Wisconsin

The following commissions voted in favor of the rule changes in 2016, and currently do not follow the Unified Rules of MMA:
Kentucky
Michigan
Mille Lacs Band
Nevada
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Texas

2016 ABC Convention - voting begins around 3:06:00 mark

Of the fifteen commissions that do not follow the Unified Rules, there are eight different variations of rules being used, which can be seen at bottom.

While the majority of the rules and regulations are being used overwhelmingly, are indicated by respondents answers to the individual rule changes and recommendations, the two most controversial are the changes to the definition of a downed fighter and the use of instant replay in fight-ending sequences. Thirty one commission that responded have adopted the change to what constitutes a downed fighter (67%) while thirty are utilizing instant replay (65%).

This survey was done to promote fighter safety and to be an informational tool for fighters, coaches, promoters and media members. Several attempts were made to contact all member commissions of the ABC. If a commission would like to add their responses to the survey, their results will be added immediately. 

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Rule Sets Used in Professional Mixed Martial Arts

Kentucky
Utilizing instant replay in fight ending sequences

Louisiana
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter

Maryland
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul

Michigan
Removing grabbing the clavicle as a foul

Wichita Tribe
Adding advancing towards your opponents’ eyes with outstretched fingers as a foul
Changes to approved women’s apparel
Allow greasing between rounds at any time

New Jersey
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter

Ontario
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul
Removing grabbing the clavicle as a foul
Adding advancing towards your opponents’ eyes with outstretched fingers as a foul
Allow greasing between rounds at any time
Changes to approved women’s apparel

Oklahoma
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter

Texas

Missouri
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul

Mille Lacs Band
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter
Utilizing instant replay in fight-ending sequences

Nevada
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter
Utilizing instant replay in fight-ending sequences

Virginia
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter

Pennsylvania
TKO loss for fighters receiving unintentional low blow (punches and elbows) and not being able to continue
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul
Removing grabbing the clavicle as a foul
Adding advancing towards your opponents’ eyes with outstretched fingers as a foul
Allow greasing between rounds at any time

Washington
Utilizing instant replay in fight-ending sequences
Changes to the definition of a downed fighter
Removing heel kicks to the kidney as a foul
Removing grabbing the clavicle as a foul
Adding advancing towards your opponents’ eyes with
outstretched fingers as a foul