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
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
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
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 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
Greg Savage is the executive editor of Sherdog.com and you can
follow him on Twitter @TheSavageTruth.