Sylvia vs. Arlovski 4, Baroni vs. Ribeiro Marred by Confusing and Dangerous Rules at ‘One FC: Pride of a Nation’

(Hey, this just means One FC will rake in big bucks for “Sylvia vs. Arlovski 5: Please, God, Make It Stop”)

By Elias Cepeda

It’s a good thing the MMA world was so excited to see the fourth meeting of Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski at One FC 5: Pride of a Nation today in the Philippines, because now it might just get a fifth. The two former UFC champions were set to clash Friday near the top of the Singapore-based organization’s card, and they did, but with an unsatisfying result for fighters and fans alike, thanks to One FC’s convoluted and dangerous rules regarding kicks to the head of downed opponents.

They are legal. Sort of.

Phil Baroni won his bout earlier in the evening after effectively using kicks to the head of his opponent Rodrigo Ribeiro. However, when Arlovski landed glancing kicks to the head of Sylvia after dropping him to the mat on all fours with a punch combination, the referee called the blows illegal and gave Sylvia time to recover. When Sylvia could not, the fight was ruled a no contest. You see, One FC allows kicks to the head of a downed opponent only after a fighter is given express, in-the-moment permission by the referee. What could possibly go wrong?

(Check out GIFs of the Baroni and Arlovski finishes — as well as full results from One FC 5 — at the bottom of this post.)

Besides giving referees a strange discretion that would seem to do nothing but open up new and exciting opportunities for oversight, slip ups, and corruption, such a rule necessarily stops the action in fights and gives fighters something else to think about other than the only two things they should be — attacking their opponent and defending themselves.

Rules like this are also going to be needlessly open to uneven application and enforcement. For example, Baroni won his fight and didn’t appear to look for nor receive permission to kick the head of the dropped Ribeiro, prior to striking. Neither did Arlovski. But Baroni won, Ribeiro lost, and Arlovski walked away with a no-contest despite convincingly beating his rival.

One FC put together a solid card with some great mixed martial arts competitors for their fifth event. Unfortunately, what will be most remembered is how the organization’s confused and unorganized rules left their referees, athletes, and spectators confused as well.

We don’t need an accounting from the organization as to what rationale led to their strange rule-set. They simply need to recognize the damage that they have done and abandon them.

Allow kicks and knees to the head of downed opponents, or don’t. One FC has to choose.

GIF of Baroni’s win:

GIF of Arlovski and Sylvia’s no contest:

GIFs courtesy of BloodyElbow

“One FC 5: Pride of a Nation” results
– Bibiano Fernandes def. Gustavo Falciroli via unanimous decision
– Eduard Folayang def. Felipe Enomoto via unanimous decision
– Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia ended in a no contest (illegal kicks)
– Eric Kelly def. Jens Pulver via TKO, 1:46 of round 2
– Rolles Gracie def. Tony Bonello via submission (rear-naked choke), 1:33 of round 3
– Jung Hwan Cha def. Igor Gracie via TKO, 1:03 of round 3
– Soo Chul Kim def. Kevin Belingon via unanimous decision
– Gregor Gracie def. Nicholas Mann via submission (armbar), 3:38 of round 1
– Phil Baroni def. Rodrigo Ribeiro via TKO, 1:00 of round 1
– Shannon Wiratchai def. Mitch Chilson via KO, 3:02 of round 2
– Honorio Banario def. Andrew Benibe via KO, 3:47 of round 3