ABC Discusses MMA Scoring, Crash Course on Therapeutic Use


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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) met Wednesday morning in the nation’s capital, wrapping up their five-day convention with a morning dedicated to mixed martial arts.

Tennessee Athletic Commission Executive Director Jeff Mullen, who also serves as the chairman of the ABC’s committee on MMA scoring, discussed the past year of his unit’s work to adopt a version of veteran official Nelson “Doc” Hamilton’s half-point scoring system.

Backed by his fellow members, Mullen outlined some problems the committee had with a pair of planks in Hamilton’s proposed plan.

Mullen stated that the idea of having a referee call “catches” -- the grappling equivalent of a knockdown -- would take away from his primary focus of ensuring fighter safety. Also, a plan to have a fourth “table” judge was shot down due to perceived redundancy, as well as staffing and cost implications.

Hamilton’s reasoning for adding the fourth judge was the thought that there would be a greater number of draws under a half-point system. However, statistics from California and Florida amateur bouts which used the system have shown approximately four percent of fights ending in deadlocks.

Mullen asserted his belief that the half-point system is a superior method for scoring MMA and that, if eventually implemented, it will not only give judges a finer gradient with which to score short MMA fights, but also give the sport its own identity.

However, the chairman made it clear early on that the system is simply not ready to be introduced at this point in time. With less than a year of testing, statistics are still being gathered to back up Mullen’s opinion that this will be a better fit for MMA.

“It is a better system but it’s a more complicated system,” said Mullen during Wednesday’s presentation.

He went on to detail his reasoning for holding off on an ABC vote.

“It is more of a training issue than a system issue,” he explained. “The most important thing for us at this point is to continue to educate our judges.”

Dr. Sherry Wulkan was also on hand to give a presentation focused on licensure of fighters with missing limbs, pre-fight medical testing for fighters over the age of 36, and the protocols for granting therapeutic use exemption (TUE) by commissions.

Wulkan, whose home state of New Jersey dealt with Marquardt and ultimately denied his TUE application, walked commission members through the process and testing protocols an athlete must follow to be granted an exemption. In the wake of the Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen situations over the past 11 months, it was a timely topic of discussion for the convention.

Also, on Monday, ABC President Tim Leuckenhoff was elected to another two-year term as head of the organization.

Editor's note: This item was updated at 9:32 p.m. ET to remove an error stating that TUE discussion was added to the ABC's docket following Marquardt’s removal from a June Ultimate Fighting Championship card. In fact, TUE was placed on the committee's agenda in September 2010.

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