At the 2016, the body of the ABC voted to approve changes to it’s unified rules list of fouls and to amend the judging and scoring criteria for professional mixed martial arts.

The changes to the Unified Rules of MMA and the Judging and Scoring Criteria for MMA received wide spread coverage in the MMA Media:

The Underground

New rules changes were proposed at the 2016 Association of Boxing Commissions convention by the ABC rules and regulations committee. The stellar group included fighters Randy Couture, Jeremy Horn, and Matt Hughes, MMA referees ‘Big’ John McCarthy, Robert Hinds and Kevin McDonald, and regulators Sean Wheelock, Matt Woodruff, and Brian Dunn, and Dr. David Watson. A number of members of the group have deep expertise in multiple areas. McDonald and Dunn for example are former fighters. Wheelock was at UFC 1, as was of course McCarthy.

The group proposed a refining of the definition of a downed fighter, means for referees to more ably stop eye pokes, a lifting of the prohibition of heel kicks to the kidneys, new judging criteria, and more.

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The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) approved the most sweeping changes to MMA’s Unified Rules at its annual conference last week in Las Vegas. The most significant alteration likely has to do with the sport’s much-maligned scoring system.

Getting the winner and loser of a fight correct is of the utmost importance to the integrity of mixed martial arts. The revised scoring language makes judging fights clearer than the original rules written in 2001.

Most importantly, it underscores that effective striking and grappling are the top tier of scoring rounds. Only if those two things are 100 percent equal does a judge move on to assessing effective aggression. And only if all of the above is equal does cage control get evaluated. These provisions were already in the original rules, but more clarity and emphasis on them has been added here.

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Mixed martial arts is constantly evolving as a sport and the rules have not necessarily done the same. Until this week.

On Tuesday, the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) general body approved a package of new rules recommended by the ABC’s MMA rules and regulations committee and medical committee. Those rules included clearer language for scoring criteria, a revised definition of a grounded fighter and a foul to address eye pokes.

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Bloody Elbow

Among the six changes to Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports’ (ABC’s) Unified Rules of MMA on Tuesday was a rewording of the criteria by which judges are to score rounds under the 10-Point Must system. Bloody Elbow obtained a copy of the new criteria, which will be logged in to the Unified Rules and become effective on Jan. 1, 2017, from veteran MMA official John McCarthy.

It begins with a mission statement: “To evolve Mixed Martial Arts Judging Criteria to focus on the result of action (versus action itself), it must be stated that criteria is to be used in specific order. These criteria may not move from one to the next without the prior criterion being 100% even in the judges’ assessments.”

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The 28th Annual ABC conference is well underway in Las Vegas and Tuesday was a big day for the sport of MMA. Representatives from 45 various athletic commissions gathered to vote on a package of six rule changes originally proposed by the ABC’s MMA Rules and Regulations Committee chaired by former Bellator MMA commentator and current commissioner of the Kansas State Athletic Commission, Sean Wheelock.

Prior to the vote, a sometimes spirited discussion and debate took place on the package of changes being proposed: new judging criteria, a new definition of a grounded fighter, the addition of extended finger fouls, the removal clavicle-grabbing and heel-to-kidney fouls, and a change to the regulations on female fighter apparel.

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