The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) have approved a number of amendments to the unified MMA rules.

One significant change to the rules is that heel strikes to the kidney are now legal, as is grabbing the clavicle, while moving outstretched fingers towards an opponent is now considered a foul.

There was also an amendment to the rules that dictate whether a fighter is grounded or not. In recent time putting a single hand down on the mat was enough to trigger a rule that prevents kicks or knees to the head, but a significant change means that either both hands, or another part of the body other than the feet most also be on the ground.

The criteria for judging a fight was also tuned up, with effective striking and grappling denoted as being the most important factors when scoring a round, with ‘effective aggressiveness’ below that, and ‘fight area control’ coming in last, and only to be used when the other factors are equal.

On the clothing front, loose fitting female clothing has now been phazed out.

The changes to the rules were voted in by a margin of 42-1 yesterday, with the New Jersey Commission being the only one to oppose the amendments, while Mississippi abstained and Tennessee waved their right to vote).

Since the ABC’s unified rules are not legally binding, the New Jersey commission could now go ahead without using some, or all, of the changes, which could prove to be problematic going forward.

“I think the question is now, does New Jersey become an MMA backwater where the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, Invicta, Titan FC, Victory FC, Legacy, whomever, do they now avoid New Jersey because they’re going to have a different ruleset?” veteran referee John McCarthy, who’s part of the ABC rules committee, said afterwards. “So to me, this punishes New Jersey. This doesn’t punish the sport. I think there are so many great gyms, great fighters, amazing MMA fans, and for New Jersey to have been in a leadership position very early on in this sport, and now to be in some sort of counterposition, I don’t understand that.”