A couple of questionable calls by referees at last weekend's UFC 159 event in New Jersey has led to the UFC demanding change. Specifically, UFC VP or Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner says that he plans to make a formal request to the Association of Boxing Commissions in order to make some changes to the unified rules of MMA.
The first thing they're interested in is clarification of the rules regarding eyepokes after Kevin Mulhall's decision to stop Gian Villante from continuing after an eyepoke without consulting the ringside physician first. Villante said he couldn't see, and that was enough for Mulhall to end his fight with Ovince St. Preux. Here's what Ratner had to say about it to USA Today:
"What we want the referees to do is don't make a medical decision," Ratner told USA TODAY Sports. "Call time. Don't ask the kid if he can see or not. Bring the doctor in and let the doctor make the determination."
"Now obviously, if any fighter can't see, you want the fight stopped," Ratner said. "But here's a case where if you go through the mechanic and bring the doctor in, it will give them a chance to see if in fact the eye clears up and he can fight. That's what you want to do there.
"The referee was a very good referee. Kevin Mulhall is one of the top referees in the world. Once the fighter said he couldn't see, it puts the referee in a position where he has to stop it. So it's the kind of thing where you want the doctors, who are there for that exact reason, to make the final determination before you stop the fight."
Right now, the rules state that Mulhall can indeed stop the fight if he chooses without seeking advice. Ratner clarified that the five-minute rule that applies to low blows is not needed here, but the opinion of a doctor should be sought:
"I think by bringing the doctor in, just the whole operation will take a couple of minutes, and I think that should alleviate most of the pain and give us enough time to make sure the guy can fight," Ratner said.
They are also looking into changing the silly "grounded opponent" rule when it comes to knees. Right now, as long as a fighter has "three points of contact" on the ground (ie. 2 feet and a hand), they can't be kneed to the head. Ratner and Dana White are not fans, and want it corrected:
"We really believe this 'three-point stance rule,' where a fighter is just placing his hand on and off the mat so he won't get hit, needs to be addressed," Ratner said. "That's not what the rule is for. That has to be looked at."
None of this is going to be happening anytime soon, since the ABC's annual conference where Ratner plans to address all this doesn't take place until late July. But this is definitely a good step in the direction of clarifying this stuff, and I will be a very happy fan if they can change the knees to a grounded opponent rule for sure.