The Association of Boxing Commissions, which oversees MMA and boxing’s regulatory bodies, will consider amending the current rules governing what constitutes a downed fighter at their meeting this Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas. The change would apply to situations where both fighters are standing but a fighter places their hand on the canvas to prevent taking damage from knees. Commission representatives Nick Lembo (New Jersey), Bernie Profato (Ohio) and Keith Kizer (Nevada) will lay out a possible solution to the issue this Wednesday.
The commission officials laid out their plan via a letter, stating:
“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.”
“Additionally, a referee may penalize, via warning or point deduction, the offending fighter for timidity.”
While the change would be welcomed by many fighters, there is concern over leaving too much room for interpretation. With the disparity of consistency between MMA officials already, the possible rule change could lead to uneven enforcement of a rather large rule change. The commission officials will make their presentation to the board on Wednesday.