The Association of Boxing Commissions made some major rule changes to mixed martial arts last week that could go into effect sooner than later. Not everybody is on board, however -- notably, Chael Sonnen.
While Sonnen didn't have a problem with changes made to uniforms, and admitted that the eye poke was something that needed to be handled, he took umbrage at the idea that the new 'downed opponent' was one that fighters wanted. Prior to the changes, having a hand touching the ground prevented a knee or kick to the head. After last week's overwhelming vote, the new rule will require two hands on the ground to avoid knees or kicks to the head.
“It's a solution in search of a problem. The eye poke needed to be addressed for a while. The uniform change, take it or leave it – it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. They made one for a downed opponent. That was a struggle. There's not one fighter on board with that rule change. There's not one promoter on board with that rule change – that's literal," Sonnen told Fightful.com.
Sonnen didn't name names, but said that he thinks that a referee that sat on the board was more concerned about referees making questionable calls than about fighter safety.It's worth noting that 'Big' John McCarthy is among the industry veterans of MMA who head up the ABC Rules Committee. McCarthy had been very vocal in making the changes.
"People got in a back room and put this together. You want to change the downed opponent rule so one guy can knee the other guy when he's in an unsafe position," Sonnen said. "That's the opposite of fighter safety. You're encouraging knees to the head. It was this ridiculous thing. You see that all the time with government work, but generally there's a need for it. This one, they were out in left field with a catcher's mitt on. Nobody wanted this change except them them. There's a referee that sits on the board and he thought it would make the refs look bad on the up and down, and now they've made the sport more dangerous and it was wrong. You have the right to make a reasonable living without going to the hospital."
Another issue Sonnen had was the fact that the vote was unilateral, as opposed to for each individual rule. Ultimately, Sonnen thinks that the sport has more risks for fighters after the events of last week.
"They voted unilaterally, I don't like that. This was ridiculous. I've never seen anyone game this. I trust that it happens, but I must watch 10-11 fights every week and I've never seen it. No outpouring, not one promoter on board, not one fighter on board, and they voted to make the sport more dangerous. They operate under the fake guise of fighter safety. It's not true. They operate to get a check deposited to their account every Friday at 5. In that false narrative of fighter safety, they made fighting more dangerous,” said Sonnen.
You can hear our full interview with Chael Sonnen at this link by registering for free at Fightful.com. Sonnen speaks about CM Punk, the conspiracy theories regarding himself, Jon Jones and Dan Henderson, USADA, Submission Underground, GFW, and much more.