UFC 210 controversy: Are new rules hampering the UFC?

In light of the recent drama surrounding this past weekend’s UFC 210 card, do the rules and regulations of MMA need further updating?

The main card of UFC 210 was shaping up nicely. We saw an early finish, a veteran of the sport retire and an emerging star in the women’s Strawweight division. However, the co-main event of the evening produced a moment of confusion and controversy that left many disappointed and frustrated. In the co-main event of UFC 210, live from Buffalo, New York, hometown hero Chris Weidman took on Gegard Mousasi. This was an important fight for both competitors. Weidman was looking to avoid making it three straight losses and Mousasi was fighting for the final time on his current contract. Both needed a win for different reasons but both would end up dissatisfied and underwhelmed by the result.

After winning the first round, Weidman was at the end of a blitz from Mousasi in the second that stunned the former UFC Middleweight champ. Out of desperation, Weidman looked to take Mousasi down (something he had done with relative ease in the round one). In the process, Mousasi stuffed the takedown attempt and hit Weidman with two knees to the head.

There was just one problem; at first glance it seemed that Weidman had both hands on the ground. He would therefore be considered a grounded opponent. Knee strikes to the head of a downed opponent are strictly prohibited and this caused referee Dan Miragliotta to call a break in the action. Weidman received a five minute mandatory break to recover. However, it was during this break that Miragliotta reviewed the footage and deemed the knees to be legal as Weidman had lifted one hand off the floor on both occasions. Under doctor’s advice, Weidman was declared unable to continue and Mousasi was acknowledged as the winner by TKO.

Amidst a sea of boos from the New York crowd and protests from Weidman and his corner, the co-main event had come to a controversial close. Fans and pundits alike were left very confused by the outcome and it appeared not even the officials or referees were entirely certain at what had just transpired.

The introduction of the new unified rules of MMA

UFC 210 MMA rules
Screen Grab

Interestingly, at the beginning of the UFC 210 main event broadcast, the new rules were clearly displayed on screen. One of them was the “Redefined rules on a grounded opponent”. It stated that a “single hand is now considered a standing fighter.” However, it was only after we saw a video replay that it became apparent that this had been the case in the Weidman vs. Mousasi fight. From this point forth, referees and officials will need to be extra vigilant as a result of these new rules to avoid a scenario like that which played out on Saturday night happening again.

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