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ABC Revises Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts; Significant Weight Class Changes

Association of Boxing Commissions

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) has revised the unified rules of mixed martial arts as of yesterday, July 3. No new rules were instituted, but clarifications and modifications were made to existing rules. Knees to head of a grounded opponent were not included in the changes because the ABC decided “the move would be too radical for some legislatures still considering the sport at this time.”

A quick rundown of the rule changes:

  • Clarification on strikes to back of the head. The “Mohawk” definition—”crown of the head down the centerline of the skill into the spine, with a 1 inch variance to each side”—will now constitute an illegal strike.
  • The “12-to-6 o’clock” elbow strike is now legal. All elbow strikes are legal except to prohibited areas such as the spine.
  • A fighter cannot cover an opponent’s mouth or nose with the intention to disrupt breathing. (Think Dan Henderson in the first round against Anderson Silva)
  • Significant weight class changes as follows

Flyweight (Up to 105 pounds)
Super Flyweight (Over 105.1 to 115 lbs)
Bantamweight (Over 115.1 to 125 lbs)
Super Bantamweight (Over 125.1 to 135 lbs)
Featherweight (Over 135.1 to 145 lbs)
Lightweight (Over 145.1 to 155 lbs)
Super Lightweight (Over 155.1 to 165 lbs)
Welterweight (Over 165.1 to 175 lbs)
Super Welterweight (Over 175.1 to 185 lbs)
Middleweight (Over 185.1 to 195 lbs)
Super Middleweight (Over 195.1 to 205 lbs)
Light Heavyweight (Over 205.1 to 225 lbs)
Heavyweight (Over 225.1 to 265 lbs)
Super Heavyweight (Over 265.1 pounds)

Flyweight (95 lbs. and below)
Bantamweight (95.1-105 lbs.)
Featherweight (105.1-115 lbs.)
Lightweight (115.1-125 lbs.)
Welterweight (125.1-135 lbs.)
Middleweight (135.1-145 lbs.)
Light Heavyweight (145.1-155 lbs.)
Cruiserweight (155.1-165 lbs.)
Heavyweight (165.1-185 lbs.)
Super Heavyweight (185.1 and above)

Promotions and state athletic commissions are not required to adopt the changes, but if they don’t, including the weight class changes, they will not be following the unified rules, which is something the UFC takes pride in. Before the UFC makes any decisions, they will likely wait to see what the NSAC does. NSAC executive director Keith Kizer spoke to about the changes and doesn’t expect the commission to adopt the changes in the immediate future.

While Kizer is a proponent of consistency and uniformity of rules for the sport, he doesn’t expect the NSAC to adopt the revised regulations immediately. The NSAC typically reviews rules on an annual basis, with the next assessment expected next year.

It will definitely be interesting to see how the weight classes play out. If the NSAC does indeed adopt the changes, what will the UFC do? The Zuffa owned WEC could all of a sudden take on a much more meaningful role outside of just the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. We’ll see.

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