Mixed martial arts has undergone quite a few changes this year as it pertains to the rules (though not yet in effect in every state). The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) has passed a proposed rule allowing for limited use of instant replay for “fight finishing sequences.”
The proposed rule now must be brought before the ABC body and voted on during its annual conference this July.
The rule states that, “the referee may only use Instant Replay when he/she feels that a “Fight Ending Sequence” was possibly caused by an illegal action (foul) whether intentional or unintentional.Once reviewing the replay the referee can either confirm or dispel whether a foul was committed that brought about the fight ending sequence and take the appropriate actions from there.”
A recent bout at UFC 207 between Tim Means and Alex Oliveira was stopped when Means landed illegal knees to the head of Oliveira while he was down. The referee stopped the fight and ruled it a No Contest, but had he had the benefit of instant replay, he could have determined if the foul was accidental or not and possibly ruled for a disqualification.
The NFL, NBA, MLB, and tennis all use forms of limited instant replay as well. The NFL, MLB, and tennis do so when a player or coach/manager wants to challenge a call. So it’s certainly a step in the right direction as far as being on par with the other major sports.
Boxing, a fellow combat sport however, does not have the use of instant replay. A handful of jurisdictions in the U.S. use some form of limited replay, but none of the major fight cities currently utilize the technology.
Unlike in tennis or the NFL and MLB, there appears to be no language in the instant replay rules regarding whether or not a fighter’s corner can call for an instant replay following the end of a fight. It appears that all discretion is left up to the referee.
The proposed rule is stated as follows:
Instant Replay Use in Mixed Martial Arts Competition
The use of Instant Replay in MMA must be set under parameters that insure fairness in the match and a proper outcome at the conclusion of the fight. Instant Replay may not be possible in some smaller shows that are not being videotaped.
Due to the complexities involved in the sport of MMA, the referee may only use Instant Replay when he/she feels that a “Fight Ending Sequence” was possibly caused by an illegal action (foul) whether intentional or unintentional. At such a time the referee and only the referee may call for a review of the last moments of the fight. Once reviewing the replay the referee can either confirm or dispel whether a foul was committed that brought about the fight ending sequence and take the appropriate actions from there.
It should be noted that Instant Replay is not to be used to review the actions of the referee. Examples of this include:
1. Was the fight was stopped at the right moment?
2. Was there a tap?
3. Did a fighter commit a foul that did not bring about an end to the fight?
If a referee utilizes instant replay, the information obtained from the replay cannot be used to restart the fight as the fight is officially over and may not be resumed.
The sole purpose of Instant Replay in MMA is to allow the referee to make a correct call on the outcome of the fight in calling:
1. A winner of the match
2. Having the fight go to the judge’s scorecards for a Technical Decision
3. Is the fight going to be a “No Contest”?
The rule is fairly clear cut and, like most new rules, it will have to be seen in action before being able to assess it’s effectiveness and whether or not there needs to be amendments.
The ABC conference where the vote is set to take place will be held July 24-26, so we are still a few months away from seeing it introduced.