Posted 03/27/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

Untethered Mail Bag for March 2014

“Will the UFC ever have the foresight to push for changes to the Unified Rules before it loses fans to increasing decisions?” – @MJCflipdascript

Back in 2010, Dana White went on record in support of knees to the head of a grounded opponent. His caveat at the time, however, was that the sport still lacked a global, standardized ruleset. The UFC owned Pride for over two years at that point, but Dream and Sengoku popped up in its place with their own quirks. Both primarily used a ring; allowed, to varying degrees, knees to the head of a grounded opponent; and Dream carried on Pride’s system of judging fights as a whole. Even in the United States, Strikeforce prohibited elbow strikes to the head of a grounded opponent.

There’s logic in Dana’s thought process, but it may have cost the UFC an opportunity to shape the rules to its liking. The Unified Rules were a molten metal back in 2010. Pride was still fresh in people’s minds, and Dream, Sengoku, and Strikeforce offered an alternative to the UFC standard. Now, four years later, Dream and Sengoku are dead, Strikeforce assimilated into the UFC, and the secondary promotions promotions largely follow the Unified Rules (Bellator, however, prohibits elbows during non-finals tournament bouts). The metal is cooling and I fear they will become less and less malleable with each passing year.

Let’s pretend we could rewrite the Unified Rules today with impunity. The first and most important thing I would do is lift the prohibition on knees to the head of a grounded opponent. There is no more frustrating thing as a fan to watch a fighter turtle after a failed takedown, cover his head, and avoid any significant damage. And, logically, it makes no sense that a bent-over fighter against the cage can improve his situation by intentionally putting himself into a worse position by putting his hand on the mat.

More controversially, and one of the few things Joe Rogan and I agree about, would be to eliminate referee stand-ups and clinch breaks. The thinking goes like this: by allowing the referee to insert himself, you incentivize the “bottom” fighter (on the mat or along the fence) to hold on to the top fighter and stall long enough until the referee gets annoyed with the boos and steps in. Forcing a fighter to work out of a position forces him to open up his game, which theoretically creates more action. The flip side, of course, is that it incentivizes the “top” fighter to maintain top position, but, again, if the bottom fighter is moving and opening up, it should create a much more dynamic game.

I was never a big fan of Pride’s yellow/red card system, especially when it was tied to a fighter’s purse. I’m not sure if that would even be legal in the United States. In any case, the referees technically already have the authority to warn/punish a fighter for inactivity or passiveness, though you rarely see it enforced.

Ideally, I would also include stomps and soccer kicks and all that fun stuff, but I’m willing to concede that many people, both fans and otherwise, would view that as a regression. Fine. So be it.

Other smaller changes: legalizing upkicks to the head of a “grounded” opponent and 12-to-6 elbows (which is such a strange, subtle distinction from legal elbows).

“best foods to eat to strengthen fart submission technique?” – @stlhdh2o

I don’t know this offhand, but I’m sure Googling “what foods make my farts smell?” will provide you with the proper information.

I did, however, have a related story. I first started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the Indiana University BJJ club. (Side note: I paid $50 to train twice a week…for the semester.) There was a woman in the class who was slightly on the small side, pretty athletic, and close to her blue belt if she didn’t have it already. I was rolling with her one day when I smelled something awful. I must have made a face because she apologized and took responsibility for farting. She said she ate clean, so she suspected it was something genetic, but whatever it was it was the nastiest, darkest fart I’ve ever had the displeasure of inhaling in my entire life.

“Why don’t female fighters punch each other in the tits all the time? Male coaches messing up the gameplan?” – @pdlmma

Why don’t more fighters (male and female) attack the body more, especially from top position in guard? I don’t know. Fighters are stupid.

“Would Bellator be instantly and/or sustainably better if they swapped Bjorn for Shannon Knapp?” – @DefGrappler

Of course. They would start pulling in double-digit ratings for Spike.

“If you could pick one person in each category, who is the stupidest MMA fighter, MMA biz guy, and MMA media person?” – @MMAPhilosophy

Fighter: I really don’t want to say War Machine, but I think it’s gotta be War Machine.

Biz guy: Malki Kawa

Media person: Ariel Helwani probably isn’t the absolute dumbest guy, but he may have the dumbest opinions on the sport when we control for his position in the sport and his college education.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter

Mike Fagan