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.
Also addressed concisely in the new language is a more liberal criteria for 10-8 rounds. Judges will look for three characteristics in a round: dominance, duration and damage. If a round has two of those characteristics, a 10-8 must be considered. If all three characteristics are apparent, a 10-8 must be the score.
The word "damage" was later changed to "impact" on amendment after opposition was voiced to codifying "damage" in the rules.
The new scoring rules will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
Here is the full language of these judging alterations to the Unified Rules as well as the other new rules added: