Josh's Helpful Guide To Understand the New Changes To the Unified Rules of MMA.

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BlueSkiesBurn
7/18/12 7:53:19PM
The Association of Boxing Commissions decided to make some rather hefty changes to the Unified Rules of MMA. BloodyElbow’s Chris Hall dropped a write-up on the new changes and you can also find a PDF of the changes on ABC’s site. I’ll go ahead and give you a minute to check out the article and the PDF…are we good? Okay. The biggest thing to come out of these new rules was the death of the half-point system. After that, things get a little bit hazy. As is common with 95% of leagues who institute new rules, some of their rules might not make a whole lot of sense. Fret not; I am here to explain these new policies in a rudimentary way. Well, I’m here to cut through the bullshit and help you understand what the commission was saying.

Disclaimer: Just because I am giving you the “real” translation, doesn’t mean that I advocate/support/agree with it. Obviously much of this is tongue-in-cheek.

Now, their PDF was broken down into two parts: revisions and explanations. Somehow, they always seem to make their explanations more convoluted than the original rule. In the interest of streamlining things, I will stick to their format and start with the revisions and then move onto the new clarifications. All of it is fairly straight forward. Well, as straight forward as things can be when discussing the enforcement of MMA’s Unified Rules. Theory and application…never quite seem to go together.

Effective Defense removed as criteria.

Striking and Grappling are now considered to be given equal weight.

“Damage” is as a term has been used a descriptor when discussing the scoring of MMA rounds by officials. It is the committee’s recommendation that this terminology be replaced by the term “effective”.


These were the revisions made by the Association of Boxing Commissions. They go on to explain them more in-depth, but we will get to that in a moment. For right now, I will just breakdown where this is headed for you. I’ll first give you the revision and I will follow it up with a policy explanation, but I will then follow it up with a REAL translation for you.

Effective Defense removed as criteria.

Translation: A defensive game-plan will no longer be rewarded. The goal of a fight is to fight and they don’t want to reward people who use a primarily defensive strategy as a means to achieve victory. Ideally, fighters should only defend when necessary as that is the “idea” behind defense.

Real Translation: Counter-strikers are FUCKED. The basic idea here is that they’re sick and tired of boring fights where guys use a counter-fighting strategy. This is a fight and they want people fighting. Defense should be used to protect yourself and that’s it. At least that’s how they see it. Guys like Machida and game-plans like the one Condit used against Diaz are theoretically thrown out the window.

Striking and Grappling are now considered to be given equal weight.

Translation: Since these two components are the biggest ways to score offensively, they will now be weighted equally. In other words, strikers vs. grapplers just got more interesting as nobody is supposed to have the clear scoring advantage due to style. They felt that striking, in contrast to grappling, was too heavily rewarded under the old scoring system. This has now been changed so that both are scored equally.

Real Translation: Lay and pray warriors just got the green-light to continue. Actually, they were just encouraged. What the hell have they been watching? On which planet have grapplers been suffering in the scoring department?

“Damage” is as a term has been used a descriptor when discussing the scoring of MMA rounds by officials. It is the committee’s recommendation that this terminology be replaced by the term “effective”.

Translation: The word damage had too much of a negative connotation for their liking.

Real Translation: We’ve decided to pussify the term for the sake of getting New York to finally pull their heads out of their asses and approve MMA.

Now, before moving on to the explanations, it’s worth noting that the ABC also refined the language for round scoring, as well. Here are the new definitions for you.

A round is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows superiority by even a close margin. This score should rarely be used.
A round is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, demonstrating effective grappling, and utilizing other effective legal techniques.
A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a contestant wins by a large margin, by effective striking and or effective grappling that have great impact on the opponent.
A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a contestant totally dominates by effective striking and or effective grappling, which put the opponent in great danger throughout the round. In a 10-7 round referee stoppage may be eminent. This score should rarely be used.


I only have a problem with the language used in the first rule. 10-10 rounds should probably be used MORE rather than less. Too many times we have seen highly inactive rounds (Maynard-Guida) where a 10-10 could have been a life-saver. Also, I am not a big fan of commissions including frequency distribution language in their rules, but that’s me nit-picking. I am not a huge fan of athletic commissions telling judges how often something should be used. It creates problems worse than the ones we already have in judging. We move on!

As promised, here’s the summary of the changes they made to the rules. Since most of the new revisions have lengthy explanations, I will do them one at a time and stick to one rule per section. Once again, I’ll give you the basic translation and the real translation.

Effective Defense Removed as Criteria

Effective Defense will no longer be considered a requirement for the following reasons:

The committee believes that offensive actions should be the only criteria used to score MMA matches. Offensive fighters are fighters which carry the fight and push the action, and make the fight happen.

Defense is its own reward. A fighter who chooses to avoid using defensive actions will invariably suffer the consequences. For example if a fighter decides that they do not want to block or avoid a strike, protect themselves from a submission, or avoid a throw or takedown then they will suffer the results of those offensive actions being used against them. The only role defensive action plays is to keep a fighter in the fight longer so that they can attempt to score using offensive actions.

Having two fighters avoid offensive actions and rely solely on defense goes against the basic primary consideration of any combative sport: To score using offense.


Let’s start with number 1 and work our way down, shall we?

The committee believes that offensive actions should be the only criteria used to score MMA matches. Offensive fighters are fighters which carry the fight and push the action, and make the fight happen.

Translation: The ABC believes that, like many sports, you should only be able to score while on offense. Defense is absolutely great, but it should be used to prevent an opponent’s offense from being successful, nothing more. They view the person who is pushing the pace and initiating combat should be the one scoring points rather than the individual who is covering up or circling away.

Real Translation: The ABC hates boring fights, dammit. They don’t give a shit about someone’s defensive plan. It’s win or go home, baby. Did we tell you that you could cover your face? HELL NO! Throw a fucking punch, Machida.

Defense is its own reward. A fighter who chooses to avoid using defensive actions will invariably suffer the consequences. For example if a fighter decides that they do not want to block or avoid a strike, protect themselves from a submission, or avoid a throw or takedown then they will suffer the results of those offensive actions being used against them. The only role defensive action plays is to keep a fighter in the fight longer so that they can attempt to score using offensive actions.

Translation: The fact that you did not take the intended punishment because of your ability to defend is its own reward. If you don’t cover yourself up, defend against a submission, etc…then you’ll pay the price. You’ll either get knocked out or submitted, but we’re not going to reward you for not getting knocked out or submitted.

Real Translation: You defended a punch, what? Do you want a fucking cookie? You’re supposed to do that! Go in there, throw some leather to your opponent’s face and knock him out, fool! This is a fight, not a chess match!

Having two fighters avoid offensive actions and rely solely on defense goes against the basic primary consideration of any combative sport: To score using offense.

Translation: They are trying to eliminate fights that see fighters play it safe the entire time and fail to initiate offense because they want their opponent to make a mistake. The idea here is to promote continuous action without prolonged periods of inactivity. Another way of looking at this: They’re trying to cut down on the amount of time you spending booing because the fight isn’t “exciting.”

Real Translation: Clay Guida, you son of a bitch! We’re tired of seeing people dance around in the cage like a bunch of jackasses. We want blood! Give us blood!

Striking & Grappling

Striking and Grappling are now considered to be given equal weight.

The old scoring system rewarded striking (as a primary consideration) more than grappling. Mixed Martial Arts is based on two skill sets – striking and grappling. The committee felt that grappling should not be a secondary factor in determining the outcome of a match. Grappling has a definitive skill set and athleticism and offensive capabilities which when used correctly can effectively end a fight. As such grappling skills should be rewarded and given equal weight to striking.

Translation: Judges were previously instructed to place more emphasis on striking than grappling. They have realized that these two aspects are equally as important and judges are now instructed to score the fights as such. It’s pretty much a common sense move. You can’t compete at the highest level in MMA if you’re not equally skilled in both striking and grappling. It logically follows that they should be scored with the same emphasis.

Real Translation: We just proved that, in addition to your wondering whether or not our judges watched the same fight as the fans, we as a commission don’t watch fights either. We don’t think wrestlers have won enough fights.

Damage

Damage” is as a term has been used a descriptor when discussing the scoring of MMA rounds by officials. It is the committee’s recommendation that this terminology be replaced by the term “effective”. This was a strongly debated consideration with the committee and something the committee reviewed in its entirety. The following reasons were given to remove the descriptor “Damage”:

The legal considerations surrounding the term “Damage” as a descriptor were given considerable weight and as such the committee felt that using the word “Damage” may contribute to the potential for liability in the event of any litigation that commissions may find themselves involved in.

The sport of MMA is still relatively new and has not received sanctioning in various jurisdictions. The committee felt that “Damage” as a descriptor may play a factor in helping to determine future sanctioning if the term was taken out of context with many opposed to MMA as a sport.

ABC Instructors who currently use this as part of their teaching curriculum are advised to make any and all subsequent modifications to their course material.


We will start with the first one again.

The legal considerations surrounding the term “Damage” as a descriptor were given considerable weight and as such the committee felt that using the word “Damage” may contribute to the potential for liability in the event of any litigation that commissions may find themselves involved in.

Translation: The word damage has some very negative connotations. While it is technically a part of the sport, they would prefer to word it differently and frame within a sporting context. By using “effective” rather than “damage,” the implication is that the aggressor is using the strikes/grappling as a means to increase his chances of winning a sporting competition. By simply using “damage,” it sounds like the only goal of the sport is to inflict as much bodily harm as possible. Legally, it’s not appealing language when examining liability.

Real Translation: We have joined the rest of the 21st century in attaching clever euphemisms to make things sound less severe. Moving forward, we plan to refer to Cut-Men as “Scarification-Prevention Engineers.” Referees will know be known as “Judicial Advocates for Fighter Safety” and Judges will henceforth be known as the “Performance Evaluation Committee.”

The sport of MMA is still relatively new and has not received sanctioning in various jurisdictions. The committee felt that “Damage” as a descriptor may play a factor in helping to determine future sanctioning if the term was taken out of context with many opposed to MMA as a sport.


Translation: Even though MMA is a global phenomenon, it’s not quite as acceptable as other sports in some areas. In an effort to reduce the negative stereotypes surrounding MMA, they have changed the wording of a few things to give it a less barbaric feel.

Real Translation: WE’RE KISSING ALL OF THE ASS IN NEW YORK! We need to get this thing going in Madison Square Garden, bitch!

ABC Instructors who currently use this as part of their teaching curriculum are advised to make any and all subsequent modifications to their course material.

Translation: They are going to begin a cultural change in MMA immediately. They want instructors to remove the word “damage” from their everyday language. The sooner people stop talking about things in terms of damage, the sooner other people will stop thinking about it that way.

Real Translation: If you stop using the bad words, the bad men won’t keep us from playing everywhere we want.

New Definitions of Effective Striking & Effective Grappling

Effective Striking Definition:

Effective striking is judged by determining the impact of legal strikes landed by a contestant and the number of such legal strikes. Heavier strikes that have a visible impact on the opponent will be given more weight than the number of strikes landed. These assessments include causing an opponent to appear stunned from a legal blow, causing the opponent to stagger, appearance of a cut or bruise from a legal strike and causing the opponent to show pain. Cumulative impact on a fighter will also be weighed. If neither fighter shows an advantage in impact of strikes, the number of strikes will determine the most effective striker.

Translation: They have decided to focus on the overall aspect of the striking game instead of focusing on how badly the strikes hurt or how much visible damaged they have caused. Strikes that cause opponents to drop or wobble them will be scored higher than strikes that don’t. Strikes that cut your opponent, stagger your opponent on the feet, or actually drop your opponent to the canvas will be rewarded the most. Additionally, the overall visibility of damage will now be considered as part of the process. If none of these happen, they will score it for the person who landed the most strikes.

Real Translation: Remember all that bullshit from earlier where we told you not to call it “damage?” Yeah, we totally lied. If you knock his ass down, cut him, or fuck him up, we’re totally giving you gold stars. Also, if you turn his face into hamburger meat, we’re gonna give you TWO gold stars. If neither one of you guys have the balls to hurt one another, we’re just gonna give it to the guy who punches more. Ready? GO!

Effective Grappling Definition:

Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown, reversals and submission attempts. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to a dominant position, and bottom position fighters using an active, threatening guard to create submission attempts. Submission attempts which come close to ending a fight will be weighted more highly than attempts which are easily defended. Submission attempts which cause an opponent to weaken or tire from the effort required to defend the technique will also be weighted highly in scoring. High amplitude takedowns and throws which have great impact will be scored more heavily than a takedown which does not have great impact.

Translation: Much like “effective striking,” they want to place an emphasis on the overall aspect of grappling while still rewarded grappling efforts that yield high results. For instance, if someone hip-tosses their opponent and then swings over to mount, they should be rewarded more than the individual who converts a basic take-down into his opponent’s guard. That said, individuals hitting sweeps, passes, and reversals need to be recognized for their grappling skills, as well.

Also, judges now have more freedom for scoring submission attempts. Fighters who place their opponents in possible fight-ending submissions will be rewarded more greatly than opponents who stall out their opponents with submission attempts that have very minimal chances to succeed. In other words, the guy who is trying a Kimura for the 45th time in a fight will not be scored as an “effective” grappler. Lastly, high-impact/high-risk throws will now be scored more heavily than low-impact/low-risk take-downs.

Real Translation: We want you to take down your opponent early and often. The more you take him down, the better. Take that fucker down and beat the hell out of him. We’re not gonna reward that pussy for trying to stop you from beating his ass with an Americana “attempt.” To hell with him. He’s just delaying the inevitable. Oh, and for you boring ass wrestlers that aren’t trying to finish your opponents, if he catches you in a submission that looks more dangerous than your takedowns, he’s gonna win, bitch. You better be active.

Oh, we almost forgot to tell you guys. That whole “damage” thing? Yeah, it doesn’t apply here either. If you pick that son of a bitch up and slam him down like a rag-doll, then you get ALL OF THE POINTS. If you judo-toss his ass so beautifully that @ZProphet­_MMA makes a .gif out of it? ALL OF THE POINTS!

Well, there you have it. I hope that this policy breakdown has helped prepare you for the next fight! Until next time.