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Legal Counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board releases statement about passage of new weight classes

Nick Lembo, the counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and one of the chief principles involved in writing the unified rules of mixed martial arts, issued a statement Sunday afternoon to address the recent passage of new rules by the Association of Boxing Commissioners in Montreal earlier this week.

We are re-printing Lembo’s entire statement below in this post, but to summarize, Lembo states the following:

  • He does not feel the name of the ABC is appropriate any longer, because it completely neglects MMA in its title.
  • It’s up to each jurisdiction to go back and approve the ABC’s recommended changes.
  • Unless each jurisdiction adopts the recommended changes, the concept of unified rules will basically evaporate.
  • He does not approve process in which the new rules were adopted.
  • He approves of a lot of the changes, just not the additional weight classes.
  • He is concerned about some of the extremes taking place in MMA in regards to weight cutting, but he doesn’t believe creating more classes necessarily addresses the problem.

Why is this important? Because Lembo is one of the main people responsible today for the unified rules that currently exist in the sport. For him to speak out against weight classes and the due process used to change rules, speaks volumes.

Below is Mr. Lembo’s statement in its entirety:

“It should be noted that the ABC meeting with regard to the unified rules are merely suggestions to the membership.

“The ABC should clarify its bylaws and its formal name since MMA is such a growing sport that it intends to address.

“Each jurisdiction must go back and individually adopt the changes and amendments.

“The document, with regard to professional mixed martial arts, has some items which would alter the longstanding unified rules developed in New

“Unless each jurisdiction adopts them, we will no longer have unified rules.

“Unified rules, in my opinion, are crucial to the growth of MMA.

“When New Jersey first drafted and later passed the unified rules, several months of meetings were held and observations were made at

“These meetings included discussions with medical staff, promoters, matchmakers, managers, fighters, fight officials, media and fans.

“We also got the approval of other jurisdictions in advance in order to ensure a unified document.

“I fully support the clarifications and explanations of the existing unified rules in the new document.

“I do also support the rule deletions and smothering addition.

“However, I have decided that I do not support the weight class changes.

“With regard to weight classes, Nevada, California and Florida were not represented at the meeting.

“Further, very minimal discussion was held on the topic. I did not hear medical evidence to support the rule changes as Mr. Garcia and I had
requested. I did not see any thoughts or comments from promoters or fighters.

“I also know that Ohio has concerns with regard to changing the weight classes.

“Major MMA jurisdctions like Nevada, California, Ohio, Florida, Quebec and New Jersey need to have an involved role when contemplating serious
MMA rule changes.

“Unless everyone is on board, the ridiculous result would be having different weight classes in different jurisdictions for the same
fighters in the same sport.

“Changing weight classes is a substantial change that needs further discussion and exploration, in my opinion.

“There needs to be more discussion and involvement of more parties prior to contemplating such a drastic rule change.

“I am not convinced that weight classes are a crucial problem within the sport and I am not yet sure that the addition of so many more weight
classes is warranted.

“I am concerned about unhealthy weight cutting but I do not think that simply adding more classes solves that.

“Any drastic changes to the unified rules need to be carefully contemplated.

“If I was going to explore an area to possibly overhaul in the current rule set, it would be the scoring system. That, in my mind, warrants attention. That concerns me much more than the current weight classes.

“The weight classes will not be proposed for change in New Jersey at this time.

“Nick Lembo, NJSACB”

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