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New MMA rules to be implemented beginning Jan. 1, 2017

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MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS — There will be a delay in the implementation of the changes to MMA's Unified Rules.

After a public discussion with the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) body Wednesday, ABC president Mike Mazzulli announced that the amendments will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

The new rules include a revised definition of what constitutes a grounded fighter and a cleaning up of the scoring criteria language.

Some commissions like Mohegan Sun and California could have put the rules in as early as this week, but every commission is different. There are jurisdictions that will have to get a majority vote from its commissioners to approve the rules. Other states or tribes will have to pass the new rules as legislation, which could take longer.

The ABC does not have authoritative power over its commission members, but it does control the language of MMA's Unified Rules. Whether or not the individual commissions implement the changes is solely up to those respective jurisdictions.

The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) dissented to the rules package voted on Tuesday. The package, recommended by the ABC's MMA rules and regulations committee and medical committee, was voted in, 42-1, with two abstentions. New Jersey was the only nay vote. Mississippi and Tennessee both abstained.

If New Jersey chooses not to use the new rules, that is the commission's right. Missouri and Ohio did not attend the ABC Conference this week and officials from those commissions are involved in the starting an off-shoot body called the Association of Combative Sports Commissions (ACSC). They are considered inactive members of the ABC. It's unclear if Missouri and Ohio will adopt the rules changes.

Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) director Cristiano Sampaio, in attendance here at the conference, said his regulatory body will follow the new rules passed by the ABC, even though CABMMA is not yet a voting member of the body.

Click here for a breakdown of the new rules voted on by the ABC on Tuesday.