Are Colorado’s various new MMA rules costing them the UFC’s business?

colorado, ufc
May 16, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; General view of the octagon before UFC on ESPN at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s decision to make MMA fights more exciting by adjusting their fight rules could keep the UFC from returning to the state any time soon.

In recent years, the Kansas Athletic Commission took the lead and approved open scoring in combat sports. Following this, they compiled data dispelling many myths raised by opponents of the transparent system.

Today the Colorado Office of Combative Sports passed a similar policy proposal bringing open scoring to the state.

Colorado to add open scoring option to MMA bouts

Combat Sports Law reached out to Tony Cummings, the current Program Director of the Colorado Office of Combative Sports. He confirmed the policy passed, noting that while it does not make open scoring mandatory in the state, it does give promoters the option to use the system.

The major drawback of the state’s initiative to alter their ruleset — some say for the better — is its variety is also the general problem with MMA rules across North America. Colorado also cleared the use of “ONE Championship,” rules featuring knees to the head of a grounded opponent, in July. A 2019 report by MMAFighting found that 10 different rule sets are being used for cage fights across the continent.

UFC’s Marc Ratner no fan of Colorado’s recent additions to MMA ruleset

The patchwork of various cage fighting guidelines from state to state is something UFC Vice President of Regulatory Marc Ratner spoke out about on the red carpet for the promotion’s Hall-of-Fame ceremony last month. Telling the media an association of commissions needs to be forged to have the same rules in every state.

“What we need is an association of commissions. [Individual commissions] don’t really have the power, and that’s what needs to be stronger. The rules should be the same in every state. It’s terrible,” Ratner said [h/t MMAJunkie]

Ratner also cautioned against Colorado and their recent approval of the rule set by the powerhouse Singapore-based promotion. Saying the UFC would not go back to the state if such rules were installed for the promotion’s fights there.

“I would tell the world that we’re not going there. I would tell the Governor that we would love to come to Colorado, but you have to have the right rules. So, I’m against that. There’s no reason to have those, I don’t understand why they would do that.”

The new open scoring rules in Colorado

The detailed outline of the new open scoring rules for Colorado can be found below.

POLICY 9: USE OF AN OPEN SCORING SYSTEM

PURPOSE: To establish open scoring system requirements for the Colorado State Combative Sports Commission.
It is the policy of the Colorado State Combative Sports Commission to establish a criterion for the use of an open scoring system for events held in Colorado. Open scoring may be utilized at any event with prior approval from the Director. Such approval must be obtained at least ten (10) days prior to the event. Approval from the Director for use of an open scoring system shall include all bouts for the permitted event and shall not be limited to certain bouts.

Control of the open scoring system, including all electronic equipment, shall be under the exclusive control of the Director or designee for the duration of the permitted event. Should part of the open scoring system fail, the use of the system shall be terminated until such time as the system is fully functional. A promoter who is granted permission to use the open scoring system for a permitted event, shall inform all participants the day approval is obtained. Failure to do so may result in Director approval being rescinded. Promoters must attest to the Director that they have informed all participants that the permitted event will include the open scoring system.