Michael Farrow's sports blog

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…on where the back of the head is in MMA

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According to "Big" John McCarthy, Liddell's mohawk is the definition of the back of the head

How can you not now where the back of the head is?  Well, it seems that two of the top referees have very different definitions so what chance do the rest of us have?   Essentially, there are two definitions of “back of the head”; the “mohawk” and the “headphones”.

“Big” John McCarthy worked extensively with the commissions when the rules were adopted and the interpretation he always worked on was the Mohawk definition.   The way he explained it was if you hit Chuck Liddell on his mohawk, below the top of the ears, you’d be hitting him in the back of the head.   This is codified in handbooks for both the Nevada and California State Athletic Commissions as a “the centre of the back of the head with a one inch tolerance” or some such.

However, at UFC 85, Nate Marquardt received a points deduction from Herb Dean for blows to the back of the head.  A big row ensued where people moaned about inconsistencies but Herb Dean claimed that both the aforementioned Commissions told referees to start using the “headphones” definition after consulting with one of the leading ring doctors.   Basically, it’s everything behind the ears from an imaginary line which connects over the top of the head.  Herb Dean said it was like wearing a pair of headphones and that everything behind those headphones is the back of the head.  However, this is a verbal agreement and not codified and Dean said he had been using this definition since 2006!

The Mohawk definition allows punches to the back of the head but the most damaging of shots, those to the base of the spine.  I can see the sense in that but I can also see that the doctors would say that they are unduly harmful.  Then again, I think all downward strikes with the point of the elbow should be banned but nobody’s banning those.  In fact, when the Association of Boxing Commissions got together last July, they wanted to allow them and they passed the Mohawk definition too.  However, most of the referees have fallen in line with the headphones definition.  There is definitely a need for clarification, especially when the statute book disagrees with verbal guidelines given by the commissions.


Written by Michael Farrow

January 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Posted in MMA

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