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Nevada, New Jersey & Ohio State Athletic Commissions Opposed To Weight Class Changes

ScaleIf you haven’t noticed, pretty much everyone in the MMA community is opposed to the new weight class changes, probably even you. Well, the people’s opinions who ultimately determine whether or not these new weight classes will be adopted or not are the state athletic commissions and the promoters. Dana White has already weighed in on the situation, and as expected, he’s completely against it.

So what about the athletic commissions? Where do they stand?

Well three of the biggest—Nevada, New Jersey and Ohio—are speaking out, and they’re definitely not in favor of it either. spoke to high-ranking officials from each of the commissions.

Keith Kizer, executive director of the NSAC

Initial reaction:

I don’t get that one. I’m surprised by it. I need to understand the reasoning behind the change. I didn’t think there was a big concern over how the weight classes were structured. This change creates a significant weight differential in the division and leaves only a 40-pound gap at heavyweight.


I’m not even sure if commissions need to be that involved in what the weight classes are. What matters is the weight, not what you call them. … Any promoter can come in and say, ‘These two guys are going to fight. Maximum weight 225 (pounds).’

They don’t need a separate weight class.

The whole point of uniform rules is to make them unified. Nobody was using these weight classes. Now if some people were using these weight classes and some people weren’t, that might make some sense. This wasn’t a unification. This was to create a whole new set of rules on short notice that no one had any input in drafting other than (Canadian commissioner Dale Kliparchuk) and John McCarthy.

Usually we do committees and things like that, so it’s just very disturbing. I definitely want John McCarthy’s input on it, but it seems like more so he wrote them and said, ‘These aren’t the unified rules. These are the John McCarthy rules.’ And they may have some validity to them, but that’s not how we get things done at the ABC. Or at least, that’s not how we used to, and I’m very unhappy.

Kizer has a point here. These changes came out of nowhere and the biggest commissions should have had input. On the flip side of that coin, why weren’t they present at the ABC conference to give their input? If they were invited with reasonable notice, and chose not to go, well then, they can’t cry about not giving their input either.

Nick Lembo, legal counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board

The weight classes in New Jersey are going to stay according to the original unified rules.

When it came to the weight classes, we needed to have a more detailed discussion. When I wrote the first draft of the (original) unified rules in New Jersey, it involved comments from the fans, the media, fighters, managers, promotions and other commissions and doctors. And to just go to such a drastic change with the very limited amount of discussion that we had on the topic, I’m not in favor of it.

Bernie Profato, executive director of the OSAC

I know that in Ohio, we are not going to go with the weight-class rules. That’s affirmative.

Where did it need to be fixed? I’ve had over 300 MMA fight (cards) in the state of Ohio. … Not one time have we ever heard, ‘Hey, we’ve got to change these weight classes.

I think we have to sit down and kind of look at the direction we’re going. Set up a committee, a strong committee, with the big states — Nevada, Ohio, California, New Jersey — and get eight or 10 people on that committee. Take these things one little piece at a time. Decipher it. Study it.

Changes not set in stone

While almost everyone seems to be upset about this issue, we can all take comfort in knowing that these changes aren’t likely to stick. Loretta Hunt, a reporter, was in attendance at the ABC conference in Montreal where these changes were made. She made an appearance on Sherdog’s Beatdown Radio show on Monday, and explained that these weight classes were set up as guidelines. They aren’t written in stone and are open for discussion, which is exactly the direction it looks like this is going in.

Nick Lembo feels that is the likely scenario.

Since the meeting, I’ve been contacted by several other states, and I have their support. I would anticipate that the ABC is going to be reviewing this matter and possibly amending that guideline.

We can all breathe a little easier now.

While maybe some minor tweaking here and there to the weight classes couldn’t hurt, the issue the commissions really needed to be addressing is the judging and scoring system. Altering the weight classes by a few pounds here and there may help some of the fighters who fall in between weight classes, but is that really more important than clarifying what a 10-8 round is, what weight certain techniques carry, or what qualifications a judge should have?

I think we can all agree on what the answer to that question is.

Whatever happens, it’s likely going to take a long time. Like anything else in politics, and life for that matter, trying to get a wide margin of people to universally agree on one issue is a daunting and painstakingly long task. The issue can’t be revisited with the ABC until next year’s conference in New Orleans. Until then, I don’t think we need to worry too much about any weight class changes actually being implemented.

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