3 MMA rules that need to change, 1 we hope never does

MMA has a lot of rules and regulations put in place to keep the fighters safe while the fights entertaining. But some of the unified rules of the sport could see an alteration, while some should remain unchanged.
UFC 273: Volkanovski v The Korean Zombie Zombie
UFC 273: Volkanovski v The Korean Zombie Zombie / James Gilbert/GettyImages
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1. Knees to a grounded opponent

This one is fairly controversial, as it is aimed more toward making fights more interesting and slightly sways away from ensuring fighter safety.

Knees to a grounded opponent was a popular rule in PRIDE and is something fans have long wanted to see be regulated in the UFC as well. It can not only lead to more finishes, but also more exciting fights and movement on the ground.

However, the current set of rules deem it to be overly dangerous, and therefore, illegal.

Veteran MMA referee John McCarthy explained on the WEIGHING IN podcast to Josh Thomson how the rule came into play. He said that the IFC fight between Brad Gabriel and Gan McGee was the reason the move got banned in the sport.

"Brad Gabriel, 6’1, about 210, maybe 215 pounds. Gan McGee at the time, 6'11, and at the time he fought Brad he was maybe 330-325 pounds, big dude; and Gan McGee gets into a north-south with Brad Gabriel and he starts bringing his leg up like 6 feet in the air and slamming it down into Brad Gabriel."

The ringside physician and the athletic commission in charge at the moment saw the striking live and were adamant about banning the move, McCarthy said. He passed the verdict that this rule would never change in MMA, at least in North America.

However, many fighters have successfully found a way around this rule, or even use it to their advantage. While it is debatable whether knees to a downed opponent truly pose more risks than a standing one, it has for sure favored wrestlers in the takedown. It also allows fighters getting bombarded with strikes to drop a hand to the mat and become a 'grounded fighter' in order to avoid taking a knee to the head.

A good change to the rule would be to still ban knees to a completely downed opponent - one who is lying down on their back or is sitting against the cage - but allow fighters to use it against takedown attempts or 3 or 4-point stances.

One fighter who would love to see this rule changed is Petr Yan, for whom things went quite terribly since he landed that fated knee on Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259. He lost his belt, went on to lose the rematch to Sterling, and then dropped two more decisions to Sean O'Malley and Merab Dvalishvili.