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Uproar Over George Sotiropoulos’ Legwear Much Ado About Nothing

(Sotiropoulos using his knee and ankle supports to allow Joe Stevenson to get a better grip on his leg.)

A popular topic of debate surrounding next weekend’s UFC 123 event in Auburn Hills, Michigan has focused on the legality of the in-Octagon apparel worn by one of the card’s participants.

Fans and pundits alike seem split about whether or not the compression short-ankle and knee support combination worn by lightweight George Sotiropoulos are legal under the Unified Rules of mixed martial arts.

Even G-Sot’s opponent, Joe Lauzon has labeled the Australian fighter a cheater because of his in-Octagon apparel.

“I don’t see how you can wear your regular fight shorts, compression shorts under that that go to your knee, then wear knee pads on both sides that go halfway down your leg, then ankle supports that go halfway up your leg and down to your toes,” Lauzon explained to Ariel Helwani during a recent episode of MMAFighting’s The MMA Hour. “I don’t know what the deal is with the commission, if he’ll be allowed to wear those or not, but we’re prepared for him either way. I don’t really understand how he gets away with them. We’re definitely going to look into it a little bit.”

(G-Sot chose to forgo wearing his knee braces at UFC 116 in July after opponent Kurt Pellegrino called him a cheater for wearing them.)

Lauzon may be wasting his time.

According to reputable officials we conferred with from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and New Jersey State Athletic Control Board – two of the main regulatory bodies responsible for helping develop the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts as we know them today – Sotiropoulos’s choice of legwear is perfectly legal under their jurisdictions, but ultimately, the final call goes to the commission overseeing each event.

We received the following statement by email from Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, Nick Lembo regarding the use of braces in NJACB regulated events:

“The unified rules are silent on the issue with regard to braces. It is not a topic that is specifically addressed there, thus, it would be up to the individual commissions,” Lembo writes. “[NJSACB’s] position is to allow neoprene sleeves, but not taping, pads or [rigid] bracing.

Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer points out that his governing body follows similar guidelines.

“We look at knee “braces” on a case-by-case basis,” Kizer explained via email. “The basic rule is you cannot use anything that could harm the opponent (like sharp edges or buckles or excess padding), could help get and hold a submission (like sticky or gripping material), or could help escape a submission (like slippery material).”

Here’s a photo of Frank Mir submitting Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 in Las Vegas wearing knee braces with Velcro straps and plastic buckles, which, as an aside, is curious considering NSAC does not allow buckles on braces worn inside the cage.

(Why hasn’t anyone questioned Mir’s Octagon attire? Is it because he has lost while fighting in the UFC?)

We asked Nelson “Doc” Hamilton, an experienced MMA referee and judge licensed by both NJSACB and NSAC if it was up to the ringside officials or referees to determine whether or not a fighter’s supports conform to the rules set by the commissions before they are allowed to step into the cage and he says that the responsibility falls on the backstage commission reps who check the fighters hand wraps in the dressing room.

“My understanding is that the use of braces etc. is a determination made by the Athletic Commissions, usually in conjunction with the promoter,” Hamilton One thing is for sure; the ring officials don’t make the final decision.”

We didn’t ask Lembo or Kizer about Sotiropoulos’ shorts as they are covered in section 13:46-24A.9 of the Unified Rules, which states that: ”Each contestant shall wear mixed martial arts shorts, biking shorts, or kickboxing shorts.” There is no clarification as to what length they must be, but according to the Oxford Dictionary, “shorts” are defined as “short pants that reach only to the thighs or knees,” which Sotiropoulos’s do.

A request for clarification about Sotiropoulos’ supports from the body that will be overseeing Saturday night’s event – the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission, has not been answered as of time of writing, but considering that most commissions allow similar braces to be worn and the precedents set by NSAC and NJSACB, it’s unlikely that MUCC will prevent him from wearing them.

(Leg braces are also a non-issue with the Ohio Athletic Commission. Tim Sylvia wore both for his UFC 77 bout with Brandon Vera in Cincinnati.)

It’s also unclear whether or not MUCC will enforce the often overlooked rule 13:46-24A.10 which requires that, “All contestants shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a contestant may wear a closely cropped mustache.”

If so, the card could be in trouble.

(Pic props Bloodyelbow)

Cagepotato Comments

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Charming Charlie- November 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm
I too noticed Paul Kelly's head and neck at the top of this article.
kazekage7- November 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm
G-Sot for the win. J-lo must be taking a page from BJ's book on how to hype up a fight by whinging. If J-Lo still has an issue with it, he should turn up with some braces on too if he feels that threatened.

I am still suprised why BJ is still favorite leading up to the fight. Same training camp prep that did the Edgar fights. Oh dear. I do hope that it is just a diversion and that he has been secretly training with the Marinovichs or something. I am fed up of his lame clips from his website.

Sudos KFC- November 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm
"to get a better grip for submissions" is one of the stated criteria... uhhh can anyone here argue that they are NOT for that exact purpose? Bc even, well actually especially as, a george fan and a rubber guard player I know that those are not for knee/ankle support they are for the sole purpose of grip in mission control, new york and crackhead control ie a competitive advantage. sure they also help wrestlers get grips on doubles etc but on his back is where george is best anyway so hardly a disadvantage there!

I want them to require doctor counsel for them that needs to be submitted prior to the event and yes I know it will all be a crock of shit and fighters can/will get any doctor to say they need them but its a good idea anyway and here's why:
1. It makes the fighter give up some training time to handle the paperwork/appointment ie makes them give up something, for the advantagous use of them later. Sure its miniscule in time but it could be a hassle or a worry which would lessen fakers a bit and at least its something.

2. Opponet switch. Lets say fighter a goes from fighting a striker with poor bjj and decides to apply for the use of double knee pads etc. However after submitting said paperwork his matchup gets changed to a world class bjj guy with medicore wrestling, now those same "essential" knee braces etc. might get him taken down and submitted. But its too late he already has a doctors notice that he NEEDS them to keep his knee together.

Happens once and you wouldnt see it again.
dranokills- November 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm
oh bitch bitch bitch! These pussy fighters and their pussy bleeding!
Sotiropoulos is going to kick his ass if they both come dressed in full metal jackets, or buck naked, it don't matter. J-lo stop being a cunt. Take your assbeating and shut up.
CAP10- November 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm
You have to wonder if that exception for the mustache was included specifically for Don Frye.
BalkanToni- November 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm
Man, that Sylvia - Vera photograph really creeps the shit out of me... I don't even really know why.
Mike Russell- November 15, 2010 at 11:37 am
 You can't grab onto shorts, gloves or braces.
Stenhård- November 15, 2010 at 11:14 am
Are the fighters allowed to grab on to the leg braces or do they count as shoorts?
LOKI- November 15, 2010 at 10:30 am
Its a moot point because Soterropodopolis only loosed in the Octagon to gingers who eye gouge.

also, Darren Elkins looks like half a retard or a punch-drunk Diego.
HaidaNation- November 15, 2010 at 10:09 am
Karo will lose, but he will keenly talk us into thinking he really won.
Crackity Bones- November 15, 2010 at 9:56 am
@Hotsauce: Increased friction would make submissions easier, particularly after both guys start sweating. It probably doesn't make a huge difference, but every little bit helps, like swimmers and runners shaving their legs.
itsgalf- November 15, 2010 at 9:49 am
Maiquel Falcao looks like Fedor at a quick glance.

Also, Tyson Griffin vs Nik Lentz got stuck in the prelims? DAMMMMN
SpicyMcHagis- November 15, 2010 at 9:44 am
Apparently Paul Kelly is the size of the Incredible Hulk while TJ O'Brien has a head shaped like Mr. Peanut
Viva Hate- November 15, 2010 at 9:43 am
Does Darren Elkins have a drinking problem? He looks a little drunk.
Videodrome_NOW- November 15, 2010 at 9:41 am
This is why Tim Sylvia is gay. Speaking of bitchassery, J-Lau is so gay if he's behind all this....and for having the gayest nickname ever.
hotsaucemonster- November 15, 2010 at 9:33 am
i dont understand the advantage that attire such as that would give other than i guess holding guard better
bcpjkell- November 15, 2010 at 9:31 am
This is why Brock Lesnar lost.
Fried Taco- November 15, 2010 at 9:21 am
“All contestants shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a contestant may wear a closely cropped mustache."

Ah, so that explains why Kimbo Slice isn't fighting anymore.