The prevalence of fighters intentionally grounding themselves -- simply to prevent knees and kicks from an opponent with superior position -- has prompted a review from the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) at its upcoming annual meeting.
The board, which is made up of state and tribal athletic commissions from across the United States and Canada, is expected to make a ruling as soon as July 31, according to notes provided by Nick Lembo of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board (NJACB).
If voted on and passed, the rule change would be clearly laid out for fighters at upcoming meetings.
MMA Fighting has a snippet:
"Referees should instruct the fighters that they may still be considered a standing fighter even if they have a finger or portion of the hand (or entire hand) on the canvas. In the discretion of the referee, a fighter who has a finger or hand on the canvas may still be legally struck in the head with knees and kicks. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is placing his or her finger or hand down without doing so for an offensive or countering maneuver in an attempt to advance or improve their position. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is instead simply trying to draw a foul. If the referee decides that the fighter is 'touching down' simply to benefit from a foul, the referee may consider that fighter a standing fighter and decide that no foul has occurred."
The rule change is looking to alleviate a loophole where a fighter may purposefully try to draw a foul from his attacking opponent. A referee would have the discretion to penalize a fighter doing so by deducting a point, similar to a soccer referee passing out a yellow card for flopping.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) purists have been calling for a return to the PRIDE-style of fighting rules, which were extremely popular overseas and done away with when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) began its "cleaning up" of the sport due to negative stigmas (like this one).
There has been a recent surge of promotions looking to implement strikes to a downed opponent, including Nick Diaz's upstart WAR MMA promotion (here) and Asia's ONE FC (here). Heck, even this longtime MMA referee thinks it would improve the sport.
Regardless, much can be said about the commissions finally looking to make changes of controversial items with the intention of improving the overall product.
No word however, on much-needed judging or refereeing changes.