That’s true, it does give an advantage to striking arts. Our focus creating this rule-set was on the audience. With ground arts, an education process is necessary before the audience can identify and buy into what’s happening with two grounded fighters. When it comes to striking however, everyone can identify what’s happening and therefore get emotionally involved in the match. So we’d rather appeal to the audience all of the time, rather than have many of them ‘switch off’ during the ground-fighting. Having said that, the rules also give a ground-fighter no choice but to instantly push for a submission or ground and pound the moment the fight hits the ground, so no ‘laying and praying’, or sitting with the lock-down or rubber-guard to take a breather.
Another advantage of the 20 second rule is that screens all around the ring show the countdown, leading to the audience shouting out the countdown, adding to the excitement and emotional involvement.
Yes, the rules favour the more aggressive fighter, and someone who’s relying on waiting for the opponent to make a mistake might be at a disadvantage. This makes for a more exciting fight, in the same way that MMA rules give advantages to domination of the space within the cage and penalise stalling. MMA rules will warn a fighter who’s not trying to improve his position, or he may lose a round due to the opponent pushing the fight more, we’re doing the something similar, just with a shorter deadline.
The strict anti-stalling rules, combined with shorter rounds means that there’s always pressure on both fighters to attack. With both fighters attacking there’s a higher chance of knockouts, and less chance of a defensive game being played by either party. Statistics on UFC fights show that 52.5% don’t go the distance, however our recent tournaments in Johannesburg and Pretoria both had 14 out of 20 (70%). When this is coupled with the fact that the fighters spend a larger percentage of time on their feet, it leads to a higher number of knockouts in an event.
When talking about being equal, our focus is to be inclusive and fair as much as possible. For this reason, we included women in our cards from day one, and they have equal purses to men. There’s also no distinction in purse between weight divisions. In this way, we’re hoping to enable growth of martial arts by giving the less experienced fighters an equal opportunity to win.
We also recognise that the possibility of being grounded and controlled for long periods can be a barrier to many striking arts, so we’ve tailored the rules to minimise this possibility, and to give opportunities to the more classical and sportive striking arts.
In South Africa if an amateur fighter enters the event, he or she isn’t reclassified as a professional immediately. The fighter is classed as a ‘pro-am’ and has a twelve month period in which to decide between pro and amateur and to go through any relevant licensing process.