"Big John" McCarthy appears to be leading the charge for rules reform in MMA
at a meeting of the Association of Boxing Commissions. And he is the perfect man for the job because he was been with the UFC the pre-Zuffa days, and this won't be the first time he has been quite vocal about the need for change. In fact, in the early UFCs, the only judgement call the referee was allowed was whether the fighter was unconscious. So long as the fighter continued to exhibit voluntary movement, the ref was obliged to let the beating continue. McCarthy insisted on being able to stop the contest once a fighter was no longer intelligently defending himself. UFC was a much smaller and more tenuous promotion in those days, struggling to overcome a public perception of being positively barbaric, and Big John was one of its best-known personalities, so the promoters acquiesced.
His biggest emphasis in the new recommendations is protecting fighter's eyes. I haven't heard him doing this during UFC events (perhaps they won't allow it?) but ever since Travis Browne broke Matt Mitrone's eye socket
with a finger poke, when he refs for Bellator, he repeatedly will admonish fighters, "up or closed, ...up or closed," meaning if they approach the opponent with their fists is open, then the fingers must be pointing up. Now he is proposing that the referee be permitted to penalize an offender who ignores multiple warnings, even if no eye poke or even a fingers-forward strike not contacting the eyes occurs.
This would be unprecedented, IMHO, from the standpoint that it is a penalty based on the potential that something bad could
happen, rather than actually doing something bad. Which seems a bit shaky to me, but something needs to happen before fighters start losing eyesight. This change might not be the cure-all but at least it's an attempt, a first step. Bellator changed gloves a few years back to ones that force the hand into a curved position whenever the fighter isn't exerting to keep them straight, thinking it would reduce eye-pokes. It hasn't done that but it has dramatically reduced the incidence of broken hands. Maybe fighters would alter their style to accommodate the new rule, or maybe developments caused by the rule change will point to a better way.
The other change McCarthy is backing that I find interesting is the definition of when a fighter is grounded. He obviously is among the many who are tired of seeing fighters keeping one hand on the mat for as long as possible when they stand, expressly so their head will remain an illegal target for kicks. They're "gaming" the grounding rule, as it were. He wants the definition amended to both hands must be in contact.
He also spoke to heel kicks to the kidneys and grabbing the clavicle, which IMHO fall into the category of, "Why is that even a rule?" Like elbow strikes delivered from the 12 o'clock position, methinks they've seen too many chop-saki films. There's no one closer to the action than the referees, and I think they have a better feel for what is best for the fighter's safety than either the fight doctors or anybody who doesn't stand so close to the pain. Big John has been a professional referee for more than 20 years, and must have done literally thousands of MMA fights. I hope they defer to his judgement on this one.
HFS! That's ugly! Don't they have a 'cleaner' procedure for that type of fracture? It looks like they used spare pieces they found in the parts bin.
I guess when your skull is turned into a jigsaw puzzle, and the fragments are so numerous that many are not adjacent to solid bone that they can be anchored to, the options are limited. At least they peeled the skin of his face down to affect the repair, only leaving the one (enormous) scar across the top of his head. Otherwise, his face might now resemble Gerry Cheever
's goalie's mask.