Marc Ratner to present formal request for MMA rule changes in light of UFC 159 fiasco in Newark

USA TODAY Sports

UFC officials want to tighten up the unified rules of mixed martial arts, starting with the protocol for handling eye pokes, by taking the power to stop the fight away from the referee until a fighter has the opportunity to be examined by the attending physician.

Gian Villante was blindsided by referee Kevin Mulhall last Saturday night (April 27, 2013) on the preliminary card of the UFC 159: "Jones vs. Sonnen" pay-per-view (PPV) event (results here), which took place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Literally.

The Bellmore native told Mulhall he "couldn't see" after getting poked in the eye by opponent Ovince St. Preux. Following a hard and fast interpretation of the unified rules of mixed martial arts (MMA), the fight was stopped and St. Preux was awarded a technical majority decision victory.

Villante was not given the opportunity to be examined by the attending physician.

With that in mind, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner, will make a formal request to the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) at the organization's annual conference in July, asking for "a clearer procedure for referees to follow when inspecting a fighter who has been poked in the eyes."

USA Today has it straight from the horse's mouth.

"What we want the referees to do is don't make a medical decision. 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. 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. 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."

All those in favor, say eye.

In addition to the protocol for stopping fights, Ratner also wants ABC to revisit the rules for striking a grounded opponent, in an attempt to take the advantage away from fighters who simply touch the canvas to avoid getting struck when caught in a precarious situation.

There's down and then there's downed.

It's not a rally for soccer kicks or other PRIDE-style rules, but it should at least eliminate the ability to take the easy way out. We'll know more later this summer when Ratner and the UFC legal eagles eventually get their case heard in San Antonio.

Stay tuned.

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