CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- The Association of Boxing Commissions met this week for their annual convention and Wednesday was reserved for mixed martial arts discussion. Chief among the topics up for debate was the revamping of the criteria by which fights are to be judged.
Sub-committee Chairman Jeff Mullen briefed the assembled commissioners and state regulators on the subtle changes his group had come up with. Modifications to the rules include the removal of the word “damage” from the previous guidelines while replacing it with the much less descriptive, and more lawyer friendly term “impact.”
The committee also dealt a deathblow to the half-point scoring system that has been much discussed over the past couple of years. In doing so, Mullen, a past proponent of the system, stated that his goal was to continue to educate officials on the intricacies of the 10-point must system that has been in use since MMA was first regulated in 2000.
A further goal of the current modifications is the use of more 10-8 rounds which, in effect, would be analogous to the greater differentiation offered by a half-point scheme.
"What we set out to do was to make MMA judging more objective than subjective," said the executive director of the Tennessee Commission. "By redefining and reprioritizing the judging criteria to better reflect what was happening at the highest levels of MMA judging."
With the committee on board a vote was called for and seconded but before it could commence, Michael Mersch, vice-president of business and legal affairs for the UFC rose and commented that in his more than 20 years of practice he had never seen a body vote on regulations without first, at the very least, discussing it with those who are to be regulated.
A six-month timeframe was floated before a three-month mail ballot vote was agreed upon to allow the UFC brass a chance to go over the committee’s recommendations. Mersch stated that a matter of weeks would be sufficient time to review the proposed changes and provide a response to the ABC.
The sad state of affairs that is the California State Athletic Commission came up on a couple of fronts. One, the lack of reporting of suspension information to the ABC database by the recently ravaged regulatory body along with other association members drew some harsh words but little in the way of repercussions. The sad fact being that the ABC lacks the federal mandate to oversee MMA that they enjoy for boxing and there is not much they can do to compel members to abide by their rulings when it comes to mixed martial arts.
Another point of concern for the ABC members in attendance was the future appointment of George Dodd’s successor as executive director of the CSAC. Pennsylvania Director Greg Sirb spoke up in open session to lobby for a role, either directly or indirectly, for the ABC in helping California choose a suitable replacement.
Sirb called Dodd a “nice guy who was in over his head,” and opined that he was not given the tools or budget to run a successful operation. It was clear he was hoping for an experienced regulator to take his place.
Georgia Executive Director Andy Foster gave an impassioned presentation imploring his colleagues to use the best officials at their disposal. His Southern drawl in full effect, Foster hammered away at his anonymous targets, both in attendance as well as in absentia about the use of boxing officials to referee and judge MMA. New Jersey Commission chief Aaron Davis voiced his support for Foster’s comments.
Foster also asked the assembled state commission representatives to either regulate amateur MMA or ban it in their states. This drew a rousing chorus of applause from a number of the members. It is a hotly-contested issue but Foster and his supporters believe that the health and welfare of amateur fighters is best served by athletic commissions who have the safety of the athletes in mind.
Greg Savage is the executive editor of Sherdog.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSavageTruth.