New Jersey Athletic Commission writes open letter to ABC

May 25, 2017

The state of New Jersey Athletic Commission, sent a letter to the American Boxing Commissions (ABC) requesting that it reconsider the rules regarding a downed fighter and kidney strike rule amendments.  New Jersey wrote the letter to urge all athletic commission to one rule set for the sport.

The open letter dated May 22, 2017 was written with the anticipating that it would be discussed at the upcoming 2017 ABC annual convention in Connecticut in late July.

“Other major sports are implementing changes to make the sport safer while the ABC has rushed through changes that could increase danger,” the letter states.

New Jersey claims that there are at least four different sets of rules regarding a downed fighter and cite three instances in the UFC (Means-Oliveira at UFC 207, Weidman-Mousasi at UFC 210 and Alvarez-Poirier at UFC 212) where there has been confusion on what rules were being used.

The letter states that the 2016 ABC convention presentation on these matters “opened the floodgates to multiple disjointed rule sets in play dependent upon venue.”  The letter claims that the two rule changes were rushed to passage by the ABC as they “were not distributed to the membership for advance review as past rule changes had been,” according to the letter.  New Jersey claims that is was not made aware of the rule changes until they were alerted to them by a media member moments prior to the convention start.

As for the downed fighter rule the four interpretations per New Jersey’s letter is as follows:

  1. Prior rule (still rule in at least 20 jurisdictions): Anything but the soles of a fighter’s feet on the mat made that fighter a grounded opponent, which allows for a competitor to just place a finger on the mat to be considered a grounded opponent.
  2. ABC recommendation: A referee that believed that a fighter was “gaming the system” and “playing the rules” could be considered a standing fighter “even if a finger or hand was touching at the time of the strike’s contact.”
  3. At least three jurisdictions: One full hand down to define downed fighters.
  4. Herb Dean stated that he analyzes whether the downed opponent is “supporting weight.”

Kidney strikes are being questioned by Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The reason being that kidney strikes are prohibited in other combat sports and the query is why they are allowed in MMA.

Payout Perspective:

The letter makes it sound like that ABC and the commissions will have things to discuss in late July.  The conference takes place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.  With the amount of confusion that occurred in the three UFC events identified in the letter, one has to think that the rule with a downed opponent should be clarified.  As pointed out by New Jersey, there should be some uniformity in the rules to avoid confusion.  Even though the ABC does not have authority over commissions, they are a great influence in producing the unified rules.

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