NYSAC adopts instant replay review policy for MMA

A general view of the Octagon during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12, 2016. / Getty Images / Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The New York State Athletic Commission adopted the use of instant replay review in mixed martial arts earlier this month.

Under NYSAC policy now, the in-ring referee is permitted to view the sequence that ended a fight to determine the correct outcome. Such a review only can occur in the time between the fight being stopped and the final decision being announced. The in-ring referee may consult with the alternate referee, but authorization to make the final call rests solely with the in-ring referee.

No fight can resume after the instant replay review.

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“This policy sets forth a process for the use of instant replay at ringside, adding clarity, transparency and predictability,” a NYSAC spokesperson wrote Thursday in an email to Newsday.

NYSAC’s policy follows the recommended standard set forth by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports last July.

The need for a defined set of procedures regarding the use of instant replay review in an MMA bout was on display last April in a fight between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 in Buffalo.

Mousasi landed several knees to the head of Weidman as he was bent over and seemingly had both of his hands on the mat, signifying what is called “a grounded opponent.” Referee Dan Miragliotta ruled the strikes illegal. In the time Weidman was allowed to recover, Miragliotta consulted with outside referee John McCarthy, who said Weidman’s palms or fists were not on the mat.

Miragliotta reversed his call. Then, after doctors determined Weidman could not continue due to the strikes, Mousasi was awarded the win by technical knockout.

The confusion led to an appeal to NYSAC by Weidman the following week to change the decision to a no contest. It was denied several months later by the commission.

It was unclear at the time if NYSAC allowed video replay. NYSAC later referenced case law, in particular Frank v. Stevens in 2008. That case involved a boxing match between Raul Frank and Terrence Cauthen in 2007. NYSAC ruled Frank’s victory over Cauthen was a no-decision after reviewing video of the fight, saying an unintentional head butt caused the knockout of Cauthen.

“Providing clarity to the MMA community through adoption of a written process was the right thing to do, and we are glad to have the policy on the books,” the Commission spokesperson wrote.

NYSAC’s adoption of the new policy will get its first test perhaps next weekend. UFC 217 is set for Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden, the seventh mixed martial arts event in New York since the state legalized the sport in March 2016.