The 12-to-6 elbow rule is one of the most despised in all of mixed martial art. While the same type of elbows strike can be thrown from almost any other angle, a specific 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock downward elbow strike is illegal in mixed martial arts, stemming from a time when it was meant to appease a governing body in order to get the sport sanctioned across the United States.
As a result, the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were created and have governed, for the most part, ever since.
The 12-to-6 elbow rule came into play at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 30 when Eddie Alvarez was in a dominant position and drove such an elbow down onto Dustin Poirier’s shoulder. The illegal strike, coupled with another fowl, led referee Marc Goddard to take away Alvarez’s superior position.
“Mr. Alvarez held the fence, clawed the ear, and then threw the 12-6 elbow. That is why the positional advantage was taken away,” Goddard explained in response to a tweet by UFC fighter Kamaru Usman.
Though he took the time to address the blow with Usman, Goddard declined to go further into the matter when asked to be a guest on The Luke Thomas Show on Monday.
“Thank you for the opportunity to come on your show live and speak, but I will skip it, thanks. People already wrongly assume that’s what I want, to talk and be in the media, but nothing could be further from the truth. All I want is to do my job. At times, if I try to offer explanation, it often gets further contorted and taken out of context. People kill referees for seeing fouls and not acting upon them, people see a referee act for repeated fouls and guess what… you get the rest. It is fighters who decide whether a referee will be seen in a fight, a good referee doesn’t,” Goddard said in a statement, according to Luke Thomas.
“People have no idea the integrity and heart I put into this sport, week in, week out, around the world. I’m most fortunate to do so. I’m a martial artist first and foremost. I’m almost 20 years deep in MMA alone, martial arts longer still. I’m not some guy just trying to be on TV. I’ve been refereeing for 15 years, 10 years alone with the UFC at the top of this game. I will always try to be transparent and accountable and I think I make a pretty good job of that. Like to thank both Dustin and Eddie for the incredible display they both gave and congratulations to Dustin. This is and always will be about the fighters. Thanks again.”
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While many people didn’t like the call that Goddard made on Saturday, he wasn’t the one that instituted the rule, he is simply forced to abide by it when and if a 12-to-16 elbow strike occurs, which it did.
The Unified Rules were meant to be just that, unified, but there have been splinters of changes across the years. Several rules were changed by the Association of Boxing Commissions in the past couple of years, but governing bodies are not beholden to follow those rules. Some implement them all as written, some utilize a portion of them, while others mixed and match at their discretion.
(Photo courtesy of UFC)