In a sport that continues to evolve how it takes place, for the betterment of the final product, the bubble outside MMA is one that still must deal with a variety of ignorance.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, Big John McCarthy, one of the forefathers who helped create the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, spoke about the upcoming changes to some of the rules and judging criteria in 2017.
Gone will be the ability for fighters to use the loophole of placing their hand on the mat to signify they are a downed fighter. This was once a scenario that was labeled as smart, perhaps cheeky, but it was one that eventually was perceived as stalling.
It prevented the fighter in the dominant position from landing knees or kicks to the head. Well now, this has been abolished, and thus, defense will be on the rise, as will offense.
Another one of the changes will actually be the addition of more warnings and fouls for fighters who extend their arms towards the face of a fighter, with their fingers pointed towards the head / face of their opponent. The goal here, is to minimize the amount of eye pokes that happen during action.
This is a midterm solution to a problem I believe can easily be rectified by the redesign of the MMA gloves. I have seen a variety of prototypes that will hopefully be coming out soon. They allow fighters to continue keeping their hands out (basically used to judge distance, distract their opponent, etc). One design will cover the fingers completely but still allow grapplers the ability to use their hands and grip accordingly.
Another design I have seen simply has the top of the glove curving over the knuckles. If a fighter tries to open his hand, much of the glove will keep it from opening fully, with the leather pretty much going as far as most fingertips will reach.
There are other designs I like … specifically an amalgamation of the aforementioned prototypes but it is still in it’s preliminary stages of design. Hopefully it will be perfected, tested and introduced into the industry soon.
One of my favorite changes will be how fights will be scored now. To be honest, and pardon my lingo, but it’s about damn time.
Judges will now be asked to score based on what I kind of deem as reality and not on subjectivity. It will be quality vs. quantity. In essence, it matters not if one fighter lands numerous strikes to his opponent in an exchange. If his opponent lands a monstrous punch instead, even just one, he will win that exchange and the “sliding scale” will move in his favor.
To make a long story short, and I am puzzled as to why Big John never used the word “finish” throughout the video, the whole point of the sport is to finish your opponent. Or at the very least, work to finish them. And that does not just mean via striking.
There is a perception and subjective angle many use when it comes to submissions. I’ve heard it time and time again … “the triangle wasn’t on right” or “it wasn’t tight”, etc. The bottom line is that one fighter was trying to finish his opponent and the other was solely defending. Add that up, and you do not get points for defending, you get merits on trying to finish. If there is one debate in MMA that makes my eyes roll, it’s this one.
As the regulators, promoters, media and broadcasting stations continue to showcase MMA to the masses, there are always going to be those who will never understand it, nor give it the opportunity to change their opinion.
Much was made about Meryl Streep’s comment towards MMA. When I first saw the headlines on social media, then listened to it myself, it had a minimal effect to be honest. It’s not the first time, and believe me, will not be the last time someone with a big name or a large soap box will take a shot at the sport.
Ms. Streep and others can say what they want about the sport. It should have a minimal impact on it at this point. She took a shot at the football … do you think that will change anything for the NFL?
Folks in MMA are looking for any excuse to defend the sport by drawing a line in the sand and often engaging in verbal warfare that sometimes degenerates into stupidity. In all seriousness, who really cares what Streep and other pot-shot takers say about MMA. The sport is great and isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, no matter who says what about it. It’s too big, too strong and too awesome to let the ignorant try and chomp it down.
In my homeland, the sport of hockey and specifically the NHL has entered its centennial era. That’s 100 years of players skating on ice, slapping a frozen piece of rubber at a net. There are still people who don’t get hockey, who don’t like hockey and who still rip it apart to this day. Yet it thrives in various markets all over the world. The same can be said for soccer, football, baseball and basketball.
And heck, when it comes to MMA, this sport is still a teenager in comparison to those well established elders. We still have eighty years of ignorance to deal with. Get used to it friends, or better yet, just smile, pat the haters on their back and either show them the light or show them the door.