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UFC 210’s Mousasi vs. Weidman debacle reveals holes in rule change



Kneeing and/or Kicking the head of a grounded opponent: A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and soles of the feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. A single knee, arm, makes the fighter grounded without having to have any other body part in touch with the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed. *

As the name suggests, the rule is intended to protect the grounded fighter. As a fighter gets up from the mat, he will most often use his hands to get up. This leaves the fighter exposed to a dangerous knee to the head. The rule originated to rightfully protect a fighter from this dangerous and compromised circumstance.

The rule change, however, was designed to prevent fighters from gaming the system and avoiding knees that are a normal sportsmanlike part of a high level MMA fight.

In his recent fight against Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 last Saturday night, Chris Weidman, instead of being in a compromised position, was the victim of his own attempt to outsmart the system. A little past the midway point of the 2nd round, Mousasi had his opponent in a clean and strong clinch; when Weidman realized he was about to get cleanly knee’d, he reached for the ground to avoid said knee through unjustified gamesmanship. Weidman didn’t reach the ground in time and when he did, Mousasi lifted his hands off the ground to knee him cleanly again.

If you were never “on the ground,” you’re not a grounded fighter.

Weidman was standing up as he saw a knee coming and he reached down to avoid the knee. These “games” are exactly what they’re trying to fix. 

The grounding rule once again caused a problematic situation where a fight had to be controversially stopped. The solution is simply to either drop the hands to the ground rule or to add in a stipulation where you are only safely grounded when you are attempting to get up. If you go with the latter, all the gaming the system and cat and mouse antics will be avoided and we can once again enjoy clear-cut unbridled high level MMA fighting.

The fights conclusion got worse as Weidman’s camp accused the NY fight commission of violating their no replay rules. However, what happened was legal as referee Dan Miragliotta consulted with ‘Big’ John McCarthy which is a legal process called polling. They discussed what happened without consulting replay and decided it was a legal knee.

Weidman, who is a great fighter and most often extremely honorable was caught in need of a time out, however, with a legal knee he shouldn’t be awarded a five-minute time out; the doctors found him unable to continue. Weidman reportedly thought the month was “February” and his eyes were way too bloodshot to allow him to continue safely.

The result much to many of us hardcore fight fans was exactly as it should be. A fighter was legally injured beyond being able to continue to fight. Although he was at first given a time out, Dan Miragliotta received legal polling with his present staff and informed Weidman that since he could not continue the fight had to be called a TKO.

The good news is the decision was correct. The bad news is that we need to adjust the rules on grounding to be more clearly enforced in the future and that we consequently didn’t get to see Mousasi conclusively finish the severely hurt Weidman.

via @EdwardGross11

*via  ABC Unified Rules

image credit – Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/via Getty Images

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