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Good Case for a Rules Change

Morgan Marx over at 411 Mania makes a good case for modifying the rules about the turtle position:

So what's my problem? It's not the rule that prohibits strikes to the back of the head. I thought Frank Mir summed up the rule nicely, pointing out the dangers and potential damages that come with delivering a punch or elbow to the base of a fighter's skull. It's the position that happens when a flattened fighter gives up his back. When a fighter basically curls into a fetal position, covering his face and head on both sides with his hands, it seems very easy for the dominant fighter to slip up and a land a shot to the back of the skull. I'm sure Varner wasn't looking to break the rules, it's just, where else could he sneak a punch in?

Had the fight continued, the round likely would have been declared a 9-9 draw. As we saw in the recent Tito Ortiz v. Rashad Evans fight, a 9-9 round has the potential to muck up the entire fight. No one likes draws, except maybe the fighter who really lost two rounds. No one made a mistake here. Varner accepted the deduction properly, and Mazzagatti was totally right in his interpretation of the rules.

Again, so what's the problem? It just seems, in the paradigm of the UFC's rule model, a dominated fighter benefits from taking the position Leggett adopted. The winning fighter can't throw elbows or punches to the back of the head, the spine, or the kidneys. The winning fighter can't deliver knees or kicks to the head. Unless he can secure a rear naked choke or deliver enough shots to the sides of the fighter's head (prompting a ref stoppage), the winning fighter doesn't have many options. It's easy to see how a penalty like Varner's can occur.

There isn't an easy answer here. I support knees to the head (like in Pride), but I doubt the UFC (or US sanctioning bodies) will ever permit that. I think what has to happen is fighters must be aware that if they give up the back and are flattened out, if they're taking shot after shot even if the strikes aren't doing too much damage, the fight will be stopped sooner rather than later. While a fighter should always have the chance to work himself out of a dangerous position, there aren't too many places to go. Giving up your back like that should be a sign of submission. Think about how many strikes Matt Hughes delivered to the sides of Royce Gracie's head before the fight was stopped. Think about how many times we see a fighter ding the back of an opponents head by accident in that position. It's an interesting problem.