The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) voted on and passed four new MMA policies Wednesday at its annual meeting in Orlando.
Among the new policies were a change in greasing allowance, when to go to the scorecards in the case of an accidental foul finish and the definition of a knockout compared to TKO, per MMA rules and regulations committee chairman Sean Wheelock. The four new policies were first approved by the committee and then voted on by the ABC body Wednesday.
They are not changes to the Unified Rules of MMA and can be implemented by commissions without the passage of new legislation or altering the language of the Unified Rules, Wheelock said.
Here’s a brief look at the changes, which do not necessarily have to be adopted by commissions:
Going to scorecards: Right now, when an accidental foul results in a finish before the third round of a three-round fight or before the fourth round of a five-round fight, it is deemed a no contest. Afterward, the fight goes to the scorecards. This will remain, but now the new policy for one-, two- and four-round fights, the cutoff will be the halfway point of the bout. So an accidental foul finishes the fight after the midway point, it’ll go to the scores. If it’s over before the midway point, it’ll be deemed a no contest.
The ABC rules and regulations committee hopes to get this changed for three- and five-round fights in the future, but that would require a change in language to the Unified Rules of MMA.
Greasing: Currently, fighters are only allowed to have a thin amount of petroleum jelly on their cheeks, eyebrows, forehead, temples and nose put on before the fight. The policy passed Wednesday states that the jelly — or a similar substance — can be reapplied between rounds, but only by an approved cutman or licensed cornerman. The reasoning for the change is because boxing has always allowed the application of such a substance in between rounds.
KO definition: The policy change states that a finish is called knockout now when a fighter cannot intelligently defend himself or herself. A TKO will be defined as a finish when a fighter is not intelligently defending. Previously, the determination was made arbitrarily by the fight’s referee. The change was proposed from a medical perspective, so that a commission can adequately determine the severity of the finish when determining medical suspensions. It was also proposed just to clear up inconsistencies between the two determinations.
Referee authority timing: The new policy makes it so the referee has authority over the in-cage proceedings until commission inspectors enter the cage. The referee’s authority begins when they leave the cage and ends when they come back after the conclusion of a fight. If a foul occurs after the finish of a fight, but before the inspectors enter the cage, the bout result is still under jurisdiction of the referee, under this new policy.
Currently, there is no clear distinction and the referee typically cannot call for a change in result after the bell. For example, in the case of some kind of extreme unsportsmanlike conduct after the bell, the referee can disqualify a fighter regardless of whether or not the bell rang. In 2015, when Rousimar Palhares held onto Jake Shields’ arm with a kimura after the bell, referee Steve Mazzagatti would have been unable to disqualify Palhares since the fight was already over. This policy would allow for that.