On Saturday, the UFC heads back to Las Vegas for the UFC 248 pay-per-view card. The event, which features two title fights at the top of the card, is overseen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). The NSAC has quite a bit of experience with the UFC as more than 100 UFC fight cards have taken place in Las Vegas over the years. A review of the NSAC MMA rules shows that it is one of the strongest commissions in the United States when it comes to pre-fight medical requirements.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is the standard for the “Commission Watch” series. The NSAC compares very favorably to the CSAC when it comes to pre-fight medicals, but there are a few differences.
One thing the CSAC requires that is absent from the NSAC pre-fight tests is an EKG. Where California requires an EKG that is good indefinitely, Nevada does not mandate that fighters have an EKG.
California and Nevada both require an MRI of the brain. The difference in these exams is that California demands fighters get a new test every five years while in Nevada, the scan is a one-time requirement “unless otherwise noted.”
California also requires fighters to undergo a neurological exam that is good for 15 months, while Nevada has no stipulation for a neurological exam.
Nevada does have two requirements other commissions should consider adopting. Those requirements concern fighters 36 or older and competitors who have not been in a pro fight in the past 36 months.
According to the NSAC standards:
Professional boxers, kickboxers, and/or mixed martial artists who will turn 36 during this calendar year, or is 36 and over must submit a comprehensive physical exam administered by a licensed M.D. or D.O., an EKG, Chest X-Ray, Urinalysis, and additional blood work including: CBC, Chemistry Panel containing Electrolytes, Creatinine, and Liver Function.
Additional Requirements: For professional boxers, kickboxers, and/or mixed martial artists who has not fought a professional fight in the last 36 months, has fought over 425 professional rounds and is not under suspension in another state need to submit a comprehensive physical exam administered by a licensed M.D. or D.O., an EKG, Chest X-Ray, Urinalysis, and additional blood work including: CBC, Chemistry Panel containing Electrolytes, Creatinine, and Liver Function.
As far as rules and scoring, Nevada has adopted all of the updated Unified Rules of MMA, except for the grounded opponent portion of the rules. According to the NSAC website:
A downed opponent is any fighter who has more than just the soles of their feet on the ground. If a fighter is caught in a crouched position where the ring ropes or the fence is the only thing keeping the fighter from the ground the fighter will be considered a downed opponent.
The NSAC website covers most questions fighters, managers, referees and judges might have when it comes to MMA in the state. All commissions should maintain a website like the NSAC does and also make sure it is routinely updated and accurate.
Overall, the NSAC does a better job than most commissions when it comes to pre-fight medical requirements. If I were to suggest anything, it would be for the state to add an EKG and neurological exam to its standards. As for what Nevada does that other states should adopt, the criteria for older and inactive fighters are well worth adopting. .