I didn’t get to watch the Jon Jones-Vitor Belfort match last month but I did follow the live updates on ESPN. One comment from a fan stood out for me. Describing Jon Jones’s assault in Belfort’s guard he wrote, “Elbows from the top are so cheap…you don’t even have to posture up.” I’m sure that this has probably been debated for a long time, but it got me thinking that the UFC should implement a new rule that would require the fighter in the top guard position to posture up before he is allowed to throw any type of strikes to the face.
I realize that such a rule might outrage Jon Jones and his fans, but I believe that in the grand scheme of things, it is a fair compromise that will make MMA a better sport. Requiring a fighter to posture up adds a new layer of skill to the ground and pound. It makes it fair for the bottom fighter who otherwise would not be able to defend himself not due to a lack of skill, but because of the natural imbalance the guard position creates. It’s hard to deny the cheapness of grinding one’s elbow against another fighter’s face at close quarters. It’s not much different from how a boxer might deliberately use the laces of his gloves to scrape his opponent’s face. Requiring a fighter to posture up will eliminate cheap elbows.
Just as importantly, this will solve the “lay and pray” dilemma. For years fans have argued about how to remedy one of the most dominant–and boring, tactics used in MMA. Some have suggested a time limit be imposed on the ground game, but such a rule could easily be exploited. With the posture up rule, however, the fighters can stay on the ground for as long as their skills permit. The lay and prayers will be forced to posture up before they can start doing damage, which then gives the bottom fighter an opportunity to escape. If the top fighter refuses to posture up and is content to lay on his opponent, the referee will naturally be inclined to stand both fighters up due to inaction rather than some arbitrary time limit.
Both fighters can benefit from this. A submission artist like Royce Gracie will have a little more room to operate on his back while at the same time the fighter on top has a better hope of getting the fight reset back to standing if he’s able to neutralize the submission attempts of the bottom fighter. Ultimately, the biggest winners of this new rule will be the fans. We will see more action, less stalling and get our money’s worth. What do you think?