New rules for UFC fighters will completely change the game 

The ABC has changed the rules of MMA in a way that should help fouled fighters quite a bit in the UFC and other promotions too.

By: Nate Wilcox | 1 month ago

UFC fighters who feel they’ve gotten a raw deal after being fouled or accidentally eye poked have gotten some relief from the rule makers.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Diakiese vs Hadzovic, Jul 23, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) is checked on by the referee during his fight against Marc Diakiese during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports, 23.07.2022 20:54:47, 18735929, UFC Fight Night, MMA PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xPerxHaljestamx 18735929
IMAGO | USA TODAY by Per Haljestam

The ABC made 2 new rules that will impact the UFC at their meeting last week

We reported on the presentation by the MMAFA at the Association of Boxing Commissions annual meeting last week but there were other big developments there as well.

Erik Magraken reports that the Association of Boxing Commissions approved two major new rules (and clarified a third) that will definitely impact the action in the Octagon.

It’s long been a known problem in MMA fights that the rules around accidental eye pokes and deliberate fouls alike disadvantage the wronged fighter. Finally action is being taken.

Fighters will have access to a cut man after being cut by a foul or accidental head butt

Rule change #1: “That a cut person could tend to a cut caused by a foul during a round (as opposed to just in between rounds).”

From a video Magraken posted on X (formerly Twitter):

“When a foul occurs — whether it’s a clash of heads or whether it’s an illegal strike of some kind and (a fighter has) a cut, fighters will now have up to five minutes to recover from that cut. During that time a cut person could come into the ring or cage and could tend to that wound. They can’t tend to anything else, but they could tend to the wound.

Under the old rules “the fighter had to resume the fight, make it to the end of the round and only then the cut person could come in.” Now “they’ve changed that to say the cut person could address it immediately to give that fighter a better chance of being able to continue.” 

Fighters will have more time to recover from eye pokes before being examined by a doctor

The second rule covers eye pokes:

“Clarification of how referees and ringside physicians should work together following an eye poke foul. The clarification will help ensure some bouts don’t come to a premature end following a foul without giving a fighter adequate time to potentially recover.”

Magraken explains:

“When an eye poke occurs timeout is called and the fighter has up to five minutes to recover but here are the new nuances.

First “officials could give the (poked) fighter a cold compress and they could put it on their eye to give them some time to recover for a minute or 90 seconds. Only then should the ringside physician come in and if possible, the doctor shouldn’t immediately shine a light in the fighter’s eye and ask ‘can you see?’

Under current rules, “the answer is often no they can’t see right away and then the fight is called instead.”

The new rules are designed to “give the fighter some time to recover and give them a tool to recover, then let the doctor take a quick look at things but not immediately ask about vision.

“Let the fighter (have most) of that 5 minutes and then and only then ask if their vision is obstructed and if it is, of course the battle is over, but if it’s not they had a fair chance to recover.”

Separating stalling fighters

The third rule approved codifyies language on referee discretion on when to separate stalling fighters.

“Positioning fighters for a restart after a foul warning, physicians examination or a point deduction:

“Intention: A fighter should never be allowed to improve their position based on fouling.

“When a fighter who is in a disadvantaged position fouls and the referee must stop the action — if it can be reasonably accomplished, the fighters should be returned to their positions after the time is taken for the warning, physician’s examination or point deduction.

“When a fighter who is in position of advantage fouls and the referee must stop the action for a warning, physician’s examination or point deduction, the fouling fighter should lose his position of advantage when the bout resumes.

“Note that the terms “advantaged” or “disadvantage” do not always equate with top or bottom. An example wold be a fighter whose strategy is to avoid stand up and pull his opponent into guard to increase the chances of getting a submission. If the top fighter fouls, it may be more appropriate to return them to the grounded position.”

Clarification of how referees can reset fighters’ positions after a foul

A fourth rule was discussed but tabled for later discussion.

“The gist of the rule is a fighter should not get an advantage by having a foul, and a fighter shouldn’t be disadvantaged by having a foul committed on them.”

Here’s the rules (Procedural Change # 2 was only tabled and not yet voted on):

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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