The Illegal Knee Rule

A quick history lesson:

When the UFC was fighting to earn regulation way back when, they were forced to agree with certain rule enforcements negotiated by uneducated politicians who felt the sport was too barbaric. One such rule was the 12-6 elbow, a move which saw any elbow thrown from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock be deemed illegal. Jon Jones lost his only fight for using one. Any MMA artist will tell you such an elbow is easily the least damaging of any technique.

Now we fast-forward to Saturday evening, which saw Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson contest end in a no-contest due to an illegally thrown knee by Guillard. In a scramble against the cage, Pearson attempted to get to his feet with Guillard leaning over him. As Pearson rose off the ground, Guillard threw a knee to the head and connected. He followed that up with a second knee, a fraction after Pearson had dropped his hand to the mat. The knee cut Pearson open and stopped the fight. It was deemed a no-contest.

Ultimately, it was not a move of ill-intent. Guillard clearly was throwing a knee while Pearson was considered a standing opponent, his knees and hands off the mat. Only an instinctual move by Pearson to drop his hand made it illegal.

The situation brings up the Achilles heel (no pun construed) of the rule. Many across the sport have lobbied that a hand down and knees up should not be considered a downed opponent. Some fighters have used the discrepancy strategically to prevent opponents from striking them with knees.

Is this right? Well, within the rules, sure. But it’s the rule that stinks.


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