UK ref calls for change in Unified Rules timeout after foul


Proposal for amendment to rule 15. H

From: Rich Mitchell's Profile">Rich Mitchell
Member Since: 1/7/13
Posts: 0

To whom it may concern,

I am a practicing referee on a major multinational promotion and a lifelong fan of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

I write to suggest the re-wording of a paragraph in the fouls section of the Unified M.M.A. Rules.

I believe the word 'illegal' has been mistakenly used in place of the word 'intentional' in a paragraph of Section 15: Fouls, Article H: Fighter Fouled by other than low blow. I will give precise details below.

I have witnessed many instances of poor and inconsistent interpretation of this section of the Unified M.M.A. Rules, even at the highest levels of the sport, which were, in my opinion, the result of confusion caused by this simple mistake.

I will now quote two consecutive paragraphs from section 15. The first details time considerations when dealing with an accidental foul. I have included this paragraph because it gives context to the subsequent paragraph, which is the one I believe contains the error in question.

If a contest of mixed martial arts is stopped because of an accidental foul, the referee shall determine whether the unarmed combatant who has been fouled can continue or not. If the unarmed combatant's chance of winning has not been seriously jeopardized as a result of the foul and if the foul did not involve a concussive impact to the head of the unarmed combatant who has been fouled, the referee may order the contest or exhibition continued after a recuperative interval of not more than 5 minutes. Immediately after separating the unarmed combatants, the referee shall inform the Commission's representative of his determination that the foul was accidental.

The following paragraph is the one I am calling into question. The first sentence contains the word ‘illegal’, which I believe should read ‘intentional’:

If a fighter is fouled by blow that the referee deems illegal, the referee should stop the action and call for time. The referee may take the injured fighter to the ringside doctor and have the ringside doctor examine the fighter as to their ability to continue on in the contest. The ringside doctor has up to 5 minutes to make their determination. If the ringside doctor determines that the fighter can continue in the contest, the referee shall as soon as practical restart the fight. Unlike the low blow foul rule, the fighter does not have up to 5 minutes of time to use, at their discretion, and must continue the fight when instructed to by the referee.

Surely the word ‘illegal’ is used in error, as any foul blow is, by definition, illegal whether intentional or not.

If the first sentence read: ‘If a fighter is fouled by blow that the referee deems intentional…’ then the different courses of action laid out in the two consecutive paragraphs would make perfect sense - they are indeed intuitive to anyone with sufficient experience in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

In my experience, the ambiguity of meaning caused by this simple error has lead to a general consensus among referees wherein: if a fighter is accidentally fouled by anything other than a low blow and the referee determines that the ringside doctor is not needed, no time for recuperation is given to the affected fighter.

This is clearly unfair and can have serious consequences for fighters and their careers. I have personally refereed two fights very recently wherein a fighter has been accidentally fouled by other than a low blow. When the fouled fighter asked for time to recuperate, due to the aforementioned consensus among my peers, in the interests of consistency I felt duty bound to answer no, despite my firm convictions as to the correct interpretation of the Unified Rules.

This seriously impairs a fighter’s chances of winning when they have been accidentally fouled yet sportingly choose to fight on.

Therefore, in summary, I propose an amendment to section 15. Fouls article H. Fighter Fouled by other than low blow paragraph (ii) to replace ‘illegal’ with ‘intentional’.

Furthermore, for clarity and consistency, I also suggest the amendment of section 15. Fouls article H. Fighter Fouled by other than low blow paragraph (i) to replace ‘accidental’ with ‘unintentional’.

I trust you will give this matter due consideration and make amendments as you see fit.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Mitchell


tags: Regulation   Rich Mitchell   


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Rich Mitchell site profile image  

2/5/15 5:20 AM by Rich Mitchell

Just a little update on this, I got a response:Richard,Thank you for writing. The committee was polled as were a number of referees. It was decided to leave the language as it is written. The point is the handling of an illegal foul whether intentional or accidental, and the procedures that follow.So there it is.

Rich Mitchell site profile image  

1/14/14 9:34 AM by Rich Mitchell

The ABC rules tend to be a expanded version but the paragraphs in question are word for word verbatim what the UFC have.  I use the number sectioned UFC version purely because it's easier to navigate. 

Rich Mitchell site profile image  

1/14/14 9:30 AM by Rich Mitchell

Thanks I sent you my email.

Rich Mitchell site profile image  

1/14/14 9:29 AM by Rich Mitchell

The time can be used at the fighters discretion. Like a nut shot. I don't believe it does defeat the docs assessment.  Say I poke you in the eye accidentally, the doc comes in & says your eye is undamaged & there's no reason you can't fight on, but you're still having trouble seeing from it. Shouldn't you get the remainder of the five to see if you can blink your way back into the game? If you can't, you can't. But if you can then the fight doesn't have to be scrapped because you weren't given time.  Again the paragraphs in question (in fact all of 15 G & H) deal with time considerations for fouls, not the deductions & it's my opinion that intent is very much a determining factor as to whether you use 15 H(i) or 15 H(ii)

Rich Mitchell site profile image  

1/14/14 8:58 AM by Rich Mitchell

The next paragraph contradicts this as it's written. Refs are forced to choose. The prevailing choice is paragraph ii which says you don't get five. Again uniformity is important.  The reason you don't get five for an intentional foul is because if you should win by DQ if the foul is serious enough  that you would need recovery time.  The low blow rulers different. This is fouls OTHER than low blows. 

Rich Mitchell site profile image  

1/14/14 6:39 AM by Rich Mitchell

Eye pokes are  the the most common applicable infraction. It's not that refs are being dicks, it's that the rules have to be uniform. The most common work around is to get the doc in & make him take his time, even when you know it's unnecessary. The ref you mentioned, in his defence he's doing what he's supposed to do because of the prevailing interpretation. 

urch site profile image  

1/14/14 2:47 AM by urch

But it doesn't say five minutes, rather up to five minutes, so not even five -seconds- of recovery for an intentional eye poke. Just for the record, I think that's appalling.Thank you very much for replying tho.

gilbertfan site profile image  

1/13/14 6:31 PM by gilbertfan

PS Richard. I think the version of the rules published on the UFC's website may differ in language slightly. This version on the ABC website may be of interst to you.

gilbertfan site profile image  

1/13/14 6:21 PM by gilbertfan

Rich yoo've got mail.

gilbertfan site profile image  

1/13/14 4:43 PM by gilbertfan

The word"should" is important because that implies that you believe a fighter injured unintentionally "should" be awarded an automatic 5 min recovery but that defeats the doctors assessment. Fighters could then use the injury to stall and recover even if they said they could continue. Again intent only affects how points and outcome are determined not whether fighter can continue. Doc determines that when he is called in.