Association of Boxing Commissions to Conduct MMA Do-Over

From a press release in my inbox:

The Association of Boxing Commissions has announced that the document entitled “Proposed Amendments for the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts,” encompassing definitions and interpretations of a multitude of terms set forth in the existing “Uniform Rules of Mixed Martial Arts” (effective April, 2001; a/k/a/ “The New Jersey Rules”), as well as several proposed amendments thereto, is intended solely as “Guidelines” to be considered by the ABC member commissions.  The ABC emphasized that neither its member commissions, nor any other person, is to perceive this document as a mandate that each ABC member commission incorporate this document or any of its content into the laws and regulations under which the ABC member commissions respectively operate.

The Association of Boxing Commissions also has announced that it will form a seven member committee to conduct a thorough study of the current “Uniform Rules of Mixed Martial Arts” to determine what, if any, justification (medical or otherwise) may exist for amendment to the “Uniform Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.” The intent of the ABC has been, and continues to be, uniformity and unification; so that the rules of MMA are the same in each jurisdiction in which this growing combative sport is authorized.

With integrity and safety serving as its touchstones, the ABC strongly encourages all of the “stakeholders” in the sport of MMA (including commissions, officials, ringside physicians, promoters, fighters, media and fans) to fully cooperate with the ABC’s MMA Committee toward these desired ends.

The committee will be chaired by Nick Lembo, New Jersey State Athletic Commission.  Other members include, Jim Erickson, North Dakota Athletic Commission, Armando Garcia, California State Athletic Commission, Keith Kizer, Nevada State Athletic Commission, Dale Kliparchuk, River Cree Athletic Commission, Josef Mason, Colorado Athletic Commission, and Michael Mazzulli, Mohegan Athletic Unit.

I don't think many MMA stakeholders were upset about some rules clarification or changes (strikes to the back of the head and smothering, respectively), but the changes to the weight classes brought withering criticism. In addition, an organization without any hint of "MMA" in it's name was trying to alter the landscape of said sport. Thus, the very negative outcry.

Now it seems they are going to fix the problems they helped create. The changes they attempted to make to the Unified Rules are now only "guidelines", the athletic commissions explicitly do not have to adopt any of said changes, and a new MMA committee of athletic commission higher ups is being created to determine if the Unified Rules actually need alteration (and members of the committee include Kizer of the NSAC and Garcia of CSAC, two key figures absent from the ABC meeting in Montreal). I feel significantly better about any potential changes to the Unified Rules with Lembo, Kizer and Garcia involved in the decision making process. For all of my complaints about Kizer and Garcia, they are hugely important figures whose job covers geographic regions where the MMA output is utterly tremendous. Any changes to the sport outside of their purview or consent aren't changes at all. Kudos to the ABC (and Lembo) for revisiting these issues and giving MMA the proper treatment it deserves.

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