Probably the best and most clear cut asskicking delivered on Saturday night was from newcomer Travis Browne, who took TUF 10 contestant James McSweeney out. But instead of everyone focusing on how good Browne looked, we now have to deal with McSweeney being a giant crybaby: his team is contesting the result of the fight:
“James was doing very well in the fight until he got hit with a totally legal and fair shot by Travis that put him down,” McMahon said. “Once Travis got on top of him, he landed several blows that were elbows to the back of the head — well beyond what the referee came and told us was the acceptable zone, which was anything that was two knuckles past the ear.”
They added the picture above as proof that strikes had landed past what the ref said was legal. Now two knuckles past the ear sounds like an awful large area to be considered ‘back of the head’, so let’s consult the experts. From an old Sherdog article on the subject:
The widely recognized “Unified Rules,” authored in New Jersey, state that “strikes to the spine or back of the head” constitute a foul. Nevada’s regulations mirror identical verbiage. The Nevada State Athletic commission’s Web site also provides additional clarification to the regulation in a “MMA Explanations” section under its Frequently Asked Questions header. It states that, in accordance with the foul, “the back of the head is considered the direct center of the head with 1′ inch of tolerance to either side.”
A 2008 edition of Referee Rules and Guidelines, distributed by the California State Athletic Commission to its officials, also lists the centerline-1′ inch description to define the back of the head.
However, Dean says the “Mohawk” definition was replaced by the current one two years ago following a presentation by Dr. Paul Wallace, a ringside physician for the California State Athletic Commission, prior to a 2006 UFC event in Anaheim.
“It’s pretty much from the back of the ear to the back of the ear, and that’s the back of the head. There’s a tremendous amount of information and medical evidence that shows that blow to that area, not restricted to MMA, have a higher likelihood of causing neurological problems,” Dr. Wallace said.
For Dean, it changed his understanding of what an illegal elbow was. Dean said that Wallace’s definition is in place by a mutual understanding between referees and commission officials in both California and Nevada, and that he has been using it since Wallace’s presentation in 2006.
Both Kizer and Garcia assert that the “Mohawk” definition has been replaced — at least verbally — by a “headphone” or “horseshoe” zone, where illegal blows start an inch or two behind the ears.
Sooooooo … um … yeah. Is it mohawk or headphones? I guess it depends on the ref and the state, and if you go by the written rules or the different ‘verbally agreed upon’ rules.
But let’s be clear: the damage in the McSweeney picture isn’t really all that close to what most people consider the back of the head. People get hit around there all the fricking time – it just happens when a fight is going and both guys are winging punches at eachother. It also tends to happen when one competitor buries his face into his opponent’s crotch to avoid punches:
Were the rules broken? Considering there’s no clarity on what back of the head really means and the general wiggle room allowed for strikes that land there in the heat of battle, I’d say not really. Should the result be overturned: hells to the no. McSweeney was getting his ass legitimately beaten, and Browne was clearly doing his best to avoid hitting the back of the head even when McSweeney was doing his best to leave nothing else exposed. Is McSweeney a little bitch for challenging the outcome of the fight? Yes, absolutely.