Republished from the Combat Sports Law Blog.
MMA Junkie reports that the UFC's Daniel Cormier has voiced the following concerns about Roy Nelson's appearance:
"The thing about the beard is it doesn't seem to be well-kept, so I'm going to request that there's a rubber band in it and that it comes straight down," Cormier said at Friday's UFC Fight Club Q&A session in Milwaukee. "Also, I'm going to ask that they put his hair in two plaits off to the side. Part it down the middle, plait it on the sides. I don't want it all in my face."
Cormier confirmed via twitter that this was nothing more than a joke with the following tweet -
But if he really did have a beef with Nelson's grooming, would he have a leg to stand on with such a complaint? Possibly, and to answer the question we have to look at the jurisdiction which will govern their upcoming bout, in this case Texas.
Fortunately for Nelson, the Texas Combative Sport Administrative Rules have nothing to say on the subject besides Rule 61.111(f) which reads as follows:
"Each contestant must be clean and present a tidy appearance. The use of grease or any other foreign substance, including, without limitation, grooming creams, lotions or sprays, may not be used on the face, hair or body of a contestant. The referee or the Executive Director’s representative shall cause any foreign substance to be removed."
So, if Nelson's beard and hair are not "clean" and do not "present a tidy appearance" it appears the Commission can weigh in on the matter. The Rules, unfortunately, don't give any guidance into what is clean and tidy and what the commission can do to remedy an untidy combatant. Do they have the power to grant Cormier's rubber band wish? It's uncertain.
If the Commission needs any help in interpreting this section they can do what Courts do when in a bind, look at other jurisdictions. The two most obvious choices being Nevada and New Jersey given the influence these jurisdictions have in MMA regulation. Both these jurisdictions give more guidance on this issue. Nevada's Rule 467.598 goes beyond the 'clean and tidy' requirement and adds the following:
"the Commission’s representative shall determine whether head or facial hair presents any hazard to the safety of the unarmed combatant or his or her opponent or will interfere with the supervision and conduct of the contest or exhibition. If the head or facial hair of an unarmed combatant presents such a hazard or will interfere with the supervision and conduct of the contest or exhibition, the unarmed combatant may not compete in the contest or exhibition unless the circumstances creating the hazard or potential interference are corrected to the satisfaction of the Commission’s representative."
New Jersey's Rule goes even further and outright bans a beard with Rule 13:46-24A.10 reading as follows:
(a) All contestants shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a contestant may wear a closely cropped mustache.
(b) Hair shall be trimmed or tied back in such a manner as not to interfere with the vision of either contestant or cover any part of a contestant’s face.
(c) Jewelry or piercing accessories are prohibited during competition.
Texas can't go as far as New Jersey and require a beard to be shaved given that their Rules don't have such a requirement, they can however, likely be influenced by the proposed remedies and require 'untidy' hair to be tied back in an appropriate fashion. It seems Cormier can have some more fun with this hair issue but to take the complaint to another level it has to wait until if/when Nelson fights in New Jersey.