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ABC changes rules on eye poke timeouts, neoprene sleeves

UFC 276: Munhoz v O’Malley
Pedro Munhoz
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A pair of proposed changes to the unified rules of MMA have been passed by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports.

On Wednesday, members of the ABC voted to change rules regarding how eye poke infractions are handled during a fight and the wearing of neoprene sleeves.

Should a referee call for a timeout to address an eye poke during a contest, the afflicted fighter will now have a maximum of five minutes to recover from the foul. After five minutes, should the fighter be unable to continue, the bout will be waved off. The result then depends on what round and what time the bout reached at that point.

Previously, the time given to recover and examine a potential injury from an eye poke was left to the referee’s discretion. The new rule is now identical to the handling of low blow fouls.

Wednesday’s other change to the unified rules makes it so that neoprene sleeves are now permitted to be worn. The sleeves may cover only the knee or ankle joints.

Read the rule here (h/t Combat Sports Law):

A competitor may use soft neoprene-type sleeves to cover only the knee or ankle joints. Approved sleeves may not have: padding, Velcro, plastic, metal, ties or any other material considered to be unsafe or that may create an unfair advantage. Tape and gauze or any materials other than the approved sleeves are not permitted on the lower body. The sleeves must be black in color, with the exception of matching the athletes commission-assigned corner with sleeves being red or blue in color as appropriate.

An additional rule states that there will be no tape or protective gear of any kind allowed to cover the upper body outside of the standard gloves and hand wraps.

These two changes are now considered part of the unified rules of MMA, though individual commissions are still responsible for implementing the changes should they decide to do so.

The 2022 ABC annual conference took place in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Watch video of the conference below.

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