Of all the sports in existence right now, MMA is my favorite. I was never much of a fan of boxing outside of Mike Tyson in the 80's and I didn't much care for UFC in its early years because the rules needed a tremendous amount of refining. I don't know if you happened to suffer through 30 minutes of a Gracie wrapping someone up on the ground for 30 minutes and then doing nothing other than very weak heel-kicks to the kidney without being stood back up, but it was an embarrassment and quite possibly the most boring thing to watch in any sport. There are a lot of changes that have happened over the years and they are nearly there when it comes to how the game works, but there is always room for improvement, isn't there?
Here are 4 rules I think that really need to change and change quickly.
No "soccer kicks" allowed
A "soccer kick" is just a kick to a downed opponent who is kneeling, fully down, or is in the process of getting up. The justification is that this is too damaging and there is a lot of reason to believe that is the case. However, it is any more damaging than a well-struck elbow to the cranium? This would add a whole new element to the game and many fights that are basically over, would get ended a lot quicker if this wasn't banned. Sure there is some controversy about how it is too powerful but remember: "defend yourself at all times!"
12 to 6 elbows are banned
This is largely regarded as the dumbest rule of all: A 12 to 6 elbow is merely an elbow that is thrown directly down (like the hands of a clock) on any part of an opponents body. You can strike up, sideways, even 11 to 5, but if you do 12 to 6 somehow it becomes magically deadly and no one can really explain where this notion came from.
Joe Rogan has a great theory as to where the ban came from and it originates in demonstrations that martial arts schools will do as displays to recruit new students. Anyone who knows anything about "strip mall karate centers" knows that these demonstrations are rigged and that if the spacers between the bricks were removed or a very specific type of material were not used in the demonstration, it wouldn't work. The reason being that the bricks are actually breaking the bricks, not the instructors magical super elbow. There is virtually nothing different about a 12 to 6 elbow than any other type of elbow but using one, even accidentally will get you disqualified. It is exactly this sort of mistake that lead to Jon Jones' only loss on his record.
Knees to the head of a downed opponent are banned
This falls in line with the "soccer kick" mentality and is made even more complicated by the fact that what "downed" actually means is different depending on where you are fighting. In some places, "downed" actually means 3 points of contact being both legs and one hand. Fighters will abuse this rule by intentionally putting one hand on the ground... then picking it up... then putting it down so that their opponent might slip up, knee them, and basically hand them a "W" for their record.
I've seen this exact situation play out more than once.
I understand that a knee to a completely incapacitated opponent could actually kill them, but it is the referee's job to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Could someone suffer horrible head trauma if this rule was eliminated? Of course they could. But do you honestly think that this isn't happening anyway?
At the minimum there needs to be a penalty for opponents who are not downed that are taking advantage of this silly rule.
Awarding big points on scorecards for takedowns
I think this rule irritates me the most. Takedowns can be the difference between getting 10 points or losing the round, or the judges just flipping a coin to decide who gets the round (not literally, but you know what I mean.) A takedown doesn't seem to take into consideration whether or not the guy who performs the move actually does anything with said takedown once he or she achieves it. The process alone already wins the points and this is just wrong. It would be akin to awarding points for throwing more punches with no regard paid to whether or not any of them actually land.
"Team Takedown" shorts
The biggest offender of this that I am aware of was former champion Johny Hendricks who actually won the belt using precisely this tactic against Robbie Lawler. Dozens of times in this very boring fight Hendricks took Lawler to the floor and then simply laid on top of him, not even attempting to get any strikes in or do any sort of submission work. At one point in the 5th round, Lawler is lying against the fence, unable to get up with a Hendricks lying on top of him not even trying to do any work and is complaining to the referee. Johny was simply trying to prevent Robbie from standing up and wasn't attempting to even hurt him. The tactic worked, and Johny won the belt only to begin a very fast decline that would see him totally exit the UFC not so long after.
This has changed a bit in recent times as referees will stand up fighters who takedown without doing any work but this doesn't change the amount of points that a fighter will receive for having done the takedown in the first place. The end result is that a good striker becomes very focused on preventing takedowns instead of dishing out damage themselves and the makes for a very boring fight with two combatants simply dancing round the octagon for 15-25 minutes.
So what do you fellow UFC / MMA fans out there think? Do you have some sort of compelling reason to disagree or agree with my list? I'd love to talk about it in the comments if you do!