Two Different Rulesets Used at UFC 220

Early prelim fights at UFC 220 last Saturday in Boston were officiated using the new Unified Rules of MMA, while the later prelims — starting with Bochniak vs. Davis — and the main card were all officiated under the old rules.

A miscommunication between the UFC, the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) and the referees working the card led to the rules being switched from new to old in the middle of the event, sources said.

The biggest difference in the rulesets is a significant one: The definition of a grounded opponent. The old rules state that anything other than the soles of the feet touching the mat makes for a grounded fighter, thereby making kicks and knees to the head illegal in that position. The new rules change that language to say that a fighter cannot put just a single hand or finger down to be grounded — both palms or both fists must be on the mat to make kicks or knees to the head illegal.

“I was gonna throw a kick [during the fight], but I held it,” Bochniak said. … “I pulled back, because it looked like he was in transition of getting back up and I didn’t want a foul. Just because these rules, you don’t know anymore. I couldn’t remember what rules were in.”

Sources said a commission official mistakenly informed UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner in an e-mail prior to the event that Massachusetts had not adopted the changes to the Unified Rules of MMA approved by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) in 2016. Those changes have not been adopted in every jurisdiction, which has been an ongoing headache for promotions, fighters and referees.

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