Changes to rules of MMA pass with overwhelming support

Despite the adaptations to the unified rules of mixed martial arts passed overwhelmingly at the Association of Boxing Commissions meeting on Wednesday, fights won’t look dramatically different any time soon.

The modifications won’t be made official until Jan. 1.

Even when the tweaks are officially adopted, however, the changes are only incremental.

The most significant change made during meetings this week in Las Vegas is in the definition of a downed fighter. Kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent are still outlawed, but fighters will no longer be able to down themselves by simply touching a hand to the ground to prevent an opponent from leg strikes.

Under the new rule, both hands and feet, palm or fist down, or any other part of the body must be touching the arena floor for a fighter to be considered downed.

That will be the most noticeable change for the average viewer, along with clarifications for judges in terms of scoring rounds.

There will be a more clear definition for the round winner and when to award 10-8 scores.

Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob Bennett voted in favor of the rule changes, which were recommended by the ABC’s MMA rules committee. Only New Jersey voted against the proposals, with two abstentions.

Bennett said it will be up the full NAC to formally pass the changes into the state’s regulations at some point later this year.

He called the changes a positive step, however.

The MMA rules committee, which includes referee John McCarthy and former fighting stars Randy Couture and Matt Hughes among others, will continue to work on recommendations to update the rules of the sport.

Other rules that were passed this week included a potential foul for an extension of the fingers in the vicinity of an opponent’s face and a clarification on clothing for female competitors.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at or 702-224-5509. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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