Freelance: Changes Made to Unified Rules for 2017

New rules regarding scoring, female fightwear, maneuvers, and other changes concerning the Unified Rules of MMA were approved by the Association of Boxing Commissions in Las Vegas earlier this week.

Perhaps the most important new development is a better definition of a 10-8 round. While the phrase “striking, grappling, aggression, and cage control” won’t be going anywhere, judges may consider a round 10-8 if two characteristics of “dominance, duration, and impact (or damage)” are exhibited. If all three are displayed, a 10-8 is definite.

Heel kicks to the kidneys are now legal as is grabbing the clavicle.

“The kidney strike with the heel is not an effective strike,” Couture told MMA Fighting. “It doesn’t make sense for it to be illegal. We do get hit in the kidneys. I can get in on a shot if you’re trying to take an opponent down, and he’s perfectly free to hit me in the back all that he wants. It’s not illegal now” Randy Couture later told

In an effort to prevent eye pokes, fighters must either have closed fists or upward facing fingers when approaching an opponent. Additionally, to now be a grounded fighter (and receive protection from what would then be illegal knees to the head) a combatant must have both palms/fists grounded.

The ABC can not make individual state commissions enact these new rules, and it appears that New Jersey will utilize that right.

“Absent overwhelming medical evidence, we are not in favor of any type of expansion of striking to the head, let alone a change that would allow powerful, potent knees to the head of a downed fighter,” New Jersey State Athletic Control Board counsel Nick Lembo wrote in a press release Tuesday morning. “We should be wary of the NFL litigation, NHL, and WWE head injury issues, and we should not be hasty with regard to matters involving the human brain and it’s well being.”

The tank tops currently a part of UFC fight kits for female competitors will soon vanish in favor of a sports bra or above-the-elbow or sleeveless rash guard, depending on an athlete’s preference.

The rule changes passed with a massive differential of 42-1 (New Jersey) with two abstentions (Tennessee and Mississippi.) These changes will take effect on January 1.