At UFC 207 Time Means landed illegal knees to the head of a grounded opponent resulting in a no-contest. Following the bout Means gave an interview where he demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of being grounded. Under the so called ‘unified’ rules of MMA these misunderstandings should not exist as the definition has been identical for over a decade. With the new year, however, this is changing in a fragmented way.
Last year the vast majority of Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports members voted to overhaul the unified rules. A time-frame of January 1, 2017 was agreed upon to bring the changes in. The changes include an overhaul of MMA’s judging criteria, allowing heel strikes to the kidney, prohibiting reaching towards an opponents face with an open hand and, most importantly, redefining grounded fighter.
Changing the meaning of a grounded fighter is important as it defines when it is legal to kick and knee an opponent’s head. The new definition, however, has not been (and likely will not be) adopted in all jurisdictions.
As Marc Raimondi reports, “New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland and South Dakota are among the states that will not adopt the new rules in full, per data collected by the ABC obtained by MMA Fighting. Texas will not vote on the rules until March. Nevada will “possibly” vote on the rules changes in January, according to executive director Bob Bennett.”
My own jurisdiction, British Columbia, is legislatively tied to New Jersey’s rules so BC is likely another jurisdiction that will not be adopting the new rules.
In short, with the new year fighters, coaches and managers must be aware of the jurisdiction they are in and understand the rules in place. The rules for MMA were never truly ‘unified’ however they are now going to be more fragmented than they have been in many years.