Nothing gets UFC refs in a tiff more than fighters punching eachother in the back of the head (even when the receiving fighter is turtling and actively trying to angle his head to encourage such blows). But while refs will yell themselves hoarse repeating “Watch the back of the head”, it’s pretty rare that you hear them complain about illegal elbows, which seem a lot more dangerous than a glove to the back of the noggin.
Case in point, the Jared Rollins / Jon Koppenhaver fight had Jared throwing some of the nastiest elbows I’ve ever seen in my life. J-Roc was in guard position and basically went to town on Koppenhaver’s head, cutting him open badly. But were those elbows legal? Let’s see how Big John McCarthy defines illegal elbows before we continue:
“Everyone thinks downward point of elbow strikes are not allowed, so you cannot hit with the point of the elbow. That’s not true. That’s not what it was for. That’s not what it meant. A fighter can strike with any part of his arm in the Unified Rules. It doesn’t matter if it’s the point of the elbow. It’s one type of elbow is not allowed. That is your hand going up to twelve o’clock and bringing it down to six o’clock, in that type of position.”
Well, that certainly sounds like what Jared Rollins was doing to Jon Koppenhaver. And it also sounds like what Anderson Silva did to Travis Lutter at the end of their bout. Perhaps the defense is that they weren’t striking 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock but rather 12:30 to 5:30. I really don’t know. There’s also been speculation as well that 12 to 6 is static, as in you just can’t go up and down gravity-wise, but when you’re horizontal, everything is legal. Which seems kinda fishy, but hey … I’m not a big fan of rules anyways, so who really cares? I just think it’s something someone might want to clarify. Safety and all that, you know?