Upkicks and Knees To the Head: How To Bend the Unified Rules Into Shape

Hi everybody. I've been lurking around on the site for quite a while now, taking in people's knowledge (love the Judo Chops!) and laughing my head off at some of the comments. This is a great place for MMA fans and I hope you enjoy this little (and much too long) contribution.

One recurring topic is how certain rules – or, as I'd like to point out, the current interpretation of the (Unified) rules – favor certain ways of fighting.

Many of us will remember Anderson Silva's last loss via DQ after kicking Yushin Okami in the jaw from his own guard [at the 2:34 minute mark]. Last weekend, on UFC 128, we saw Crocop warned for attempting the same thing when taken down by Brendan Schaub. And I certainly see this happening every time I watch Jon Jones posturing up on the ground (be it to rain down elbows and punches, towering over his opponent, or to avoid a submission).

Of course I usually don't see it happening because the rules apparently don't allow for it (but nice try, Brandon [at 2:41]).

On UFC on Versus 1, Herb Dean famously told Paul Buentello he was "playin' the game" when Buentello put his hand on the ground to avoid Cheick Kongo's knee strikes (or offer him just another way to gladly break the rules) [at 11:28]. Lately people have complained about the same tactics being applied by Diego Sanchez in his close fight against Martin Kampmann.

Mostly, though, what we are talking about here is less specifically someone "playing the game" and more generally fighters a) not having to pay for failed takedowns – wrestlers turtling up or holding on to a leg when their opponent sprawls effectively – and b) not running much risk from top position (as long as they know how to stay out of submissions). Come on: you're controlling someone on the ground, punching and elbowing him, gravity's fucking force on your side, and he can't even kick back at you?


For a possible solution read on after the jump.


As far as solutions go, I'd like to invite you to a little exercise in sophistics. Here's what the Unified Rules have to say about kicks and knees on the ground:

"13:46-24A.15 Fouls

(a) The following are fouls and will result in penalties if committed:


14. Kicking the head of a grounded fighter;

15. Kneeing the head of a grounded fighter"


And here's my very simple proposal: Educate referees to distinguish between a fighter grounded by his opponent and a fighter grounded by himself. Then educate them to understand that the cited fouls / rules are not intended to protect a self-grounded fighter. A guy who throws himself in front of a truck is considered to have committed suicide, not to have been murdered. And he wasn't even trying to hurt the truck. Whereas a self-grounded fighter grounded himself precisely in order to gain an advantage over and to control and damage his opponent.

The upshot of all this is: It should continue to be considered a foul if a fighter kicks or knees his opponent in the head after he put him in a grounded position via takedown or strikes. It should not be considered a foul if someone went to the ground of his own accord. (Side note: I'm not so sure of the consequences this should have when a fighter pulls guard. If we could amend the rules in question instead of just reinterpreting them, we could specify that the cited rules should apply to an opponent on his back regardless of how he got there. What do you think?)

In my view, this interpretation of the rules could solve some of the problems that lead to boring fights. First of all, it would remove an unnecessary advantage for wrestling-based approaches to MMA (unnecessary as far as fighters' safety is concerned), giving strikers a much needed chance to work from the bottom or after sprawling. Secondly, a more realistic risk-reward-ratio for takedowns would make strikers less hesitant to throw on their feet. I'd certainly love to see what changes this bending into shape of the Unified Rules could bring about.


Thanks for taking your time for reading this. Keep posting, commenting and having fun!

Yul B.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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