Welcome to Midnight Mania!
I don’t think anyone believes the current rules and regulations for MMA are perfect.
Some rules make great sense and help keep the sport, well, a sport rather than an assault charge. “No Biting,” for example, is widely considered a good idea. Some rules face far more criticism, like the 12-6 elbow rule that dictates that an elbow cannot be thrown at a perfect vertical angle. Legend has it that the rule was put into place back in the day due to old Karate videos of men breaking bricks with that technique, and thirty years later, it’s still in place despite there being little evidence this kind of elbow is more impactful than any other.
Then, there’s style choices. Should knees to a grounded opponent be legal? One Championship says yes, and many fight fans are thrilled to relive great PRIDE FC-type moments. It’s a gray area!
Strikes to the back of the head, also known as rabbit punches, are the first category. The reasoning here is that shots directly to the back of the head carry an increased risk of doing damage to the cervical vertebrae and spinal cord. In fact, any shot that directly targets the spinal cord is illegal in MMA, because athletes getting paralyzed and potentially killed is BAD! The well-known example in boxing is that of Prichard Colon, who in 2015 fell into a coma and found himself in a vegetative state after absorbing several blows to the back of the head against Terrel Williams.
In short, strikes to the back of the head are bad news. In his latest wild comment this week, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan argues they should be legalized, since they happen incidentally anyway. Talking with Jorge Masvidal, the conversation moved from the normal realm of legalizing grounded knees to the weird and wild concept of permissible back of the head shots.
“I don’t even know that we should stop hitting people in the back of the head,” Rogan argued. “It doesn’t make any sense to me because a lot of knockouts, like high kicks, wrap around the back of the shoulder and they go right to the back of your head. And it’s legal.”
When guest Jorge Masvidal pointed out that back of the head shots are common in fight-finishing exchanges, Rogan continued, “In wild exchanges and scrambles, like Ciryl Gane and Junior dos Santos. He kind of hit him with an elbow in the back of the head. It’s like, it should be legal. I don’t understand why it’s not legal. People say you’re more vulnerable there, well, don’t get f—king hit there.
Eddie Bravo’s talked about this all the time, the old days of MMA, When a guy got someone’s back, they would just drop elbows down on his head, back of the head. If they have your back and the head is there, all this punching just to the side is not realistic.”
I’ve been in quite a few backstage rules meetings over the years, so aside from again mentioning that this is an insane line of reasoning, I’d like to clarify how referees determine whether a shot to the back of the head is a foul. As Rogan accurately mentioned, a kick is allowed to wrap around the side of the head, touch an illegal area, and still be considered fair game. MMA is chaotic, and when both men are moving, it’s considered part of the game.
Referees take issue when there’s control involved. In the clinch or on the canvas, for example, fighters must be careful with where their shots are landing. When there’s little movement involved, leniency is removed from the equation. If a fighter gets rocked and turns away, the attacking fighter still has an obligation to angle their shots and avoided blasting the brain stem.
Do back of the head shots sometimes happen in fight-finishing exchanges? Definitely, and occasionally it’s allowed to a troubling degree. Still, that’s not an argument for making them more common, which could result in devastating outcomes for athletes and the sport.
Rafael dos Anjos is 38 years old, has fought some of the best ever, and wants seven more UFC fights. Legend!
I’m looking to finish my contact with Ufc, 7 more fights at 170. After that I’m planing to open a gym and teach martial arts. Martial arts changed my life and I’m looking forward to change other people’s life— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) March 24, 2023
Can Khusein Askhabov recover from his first pro loss to Jamall Emmers? David Onama has thunder in his hands, so it’ll be a real interesting challenge.
BREAKING— Marcel Dorff (@BigMarcel24) March 24, 2023
A featherweight bout between David Onama and Khusein Askhabov is set to take place at a UFC event on June 3rd. pic.twitter.com/cC6tiWKRqB
It’s a family affair.
this photo of Chito Vera’s wife helping him cut weight for Rob Font still goes hard pic.twitter.com/N96VPLEeee— Out Of Context MMA (@oocmma) March 24, 2023
Related: Marlon Vera is a savage.
Chito Vera is the best bantamweight finisher and he’s still in his prime. pic.twitter.com/llGzz1r1o0— MMA On Point (@OnPointMMA) March 24, 2023
Leon Edwards’ last two fights with Kamaru Usman have created a pretty iconic pair of moments.
Introducing… ‘Headshot’— Ross Baines Art (@RossBainesArt) March 23, 2023
My latest original acrylic painting of @Leon_edwardsmma unforgettable pre fight posture at #UFC286
Prints available now at https://t.co/80D697cnWe including 20 x A3 prints personally signed by Leon available to pre order.
If you’re interested in… pic.twitter.com/gKkodKWZjU
Speaking of Usman, TUF winner Mohammed Usman finally has a second fight booked.
This picture draws attention to the fact that Drew Dober is a DENSE Lightweight.
What you don't see is this punch missed and @DrewDober proceeds to 3 piece me directly after this . Thank you for all the help this week brotha. #NOTLONG #UFC287#FUCKINGLIGHTWEIGHTS pic.twitter.com/NDfna0wO8r— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) March 24, 2023
If Jiri Prochazka sparred like he fights, he would be knocking out partners left and right. That’s bad for everyone.
People take training so seriously..... I watched Buckley beat curt in the gym which is why Buckley wanted the fight and then they fight and curt clowns him.....— Sean Strickland (@SStricklandMMA) March 24, 2023
I didn’t realize Cory Sandhagen’s back tattoo was so religious, but regardless, it still goes pretty hard!
March 22, 2023
Slips, rips, and KO clips
I feel like it’s fairly uncommon to see a distance kicker also move his head so efficiently.
Amri Madani is an early 2000’s savate tireur who was so incredibly wiry. This dudes kicks are so weird looking because of just how long his legs are. Pretty interesting. pic.twitter.com/pjqJdpKZH5— Blaine Henry (@BlaineHenryTFL) March 24, 2023
Shin draped along the side of the head is going to cause a nap.
Peter Aerts scores another skull crushing headkick knockout, this time over former WKA & IBF champion James Warring.— Cerebral Vigilante (@Delisketo) March 24, 2023
BRUTAL KO pic.twitter.com/TXgrCb2LMG
Some weird s—t.
Midnight Music: The new Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA project Scaring The Hoes dropped, and it’s as lyrically dense and musically chaotic as I hoped.
Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.