Since the Association of Boxing Commissions, who creates the unified rules of Mixed Martial Arts, made changes to the ruleset, MMA has been a bit problematic. The problem doesn’t come from the change in the rules regarding knees to the head of a downed opponent and leading with your fingers outstretched, it comes from the states adopting the new rules.
How is this even a thing? If new rules are set forth, you use them. Imagine a world where NFL teams could say “If you’re playing us, forward laterals are legal.” That is what is essentially happening in MMA.
Problems really began to surface at UFC 210 in Buffalo, NY when Gegard Mousasi took on former welterweight champion Chris Weidman. I won’t go into all that mess, but it is worth a watch if you like clown fiestas.
It once again happened at UFC 211, but in a bit of a different way between Dustin Poirier and former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez landed what would be a pair of legal knee under the new rules, but because the fight was in Texas (a state that hasn’t adopted the new rules), it was illegal and referee Herb Dean should have stepped right in. Here’s where the latest clown fiesta begins.
Dean should have stepped right in after the first knee and given Poirier his five minutes to recover. Instead, Alvarez proceeded to land a third knee that was clearly illegal. Dean decided to declare the bout a no contest because flagrant illegal knees aren’t that big of a deal in the world of Herb Dean.
The real issue is the states not adopting the rules universally. Both fighters and referees alike must now prepare for potential rule changes every event, and bettors at places like MatchedBets are going crazy trying to predict outcomes.
Hey! You remember PRIDE? Sound familiar?
It’s time the ABC steps in and forces states to adopt the rule changes. I have no clue if politics of the sport are getting in the way or if the rules are ultimately in the hands of the state or if the states are just slow, but this is something that needs to be taken care of.