Allow me to pick apart this definition a bit as I believe a similar statement for boxing might help clear up any uncertainty that may exist in the minds of boxing judges. First, it specifies both the quantity of punches (“number of legal strikes landed”) and the quality of these punches (“the significance of such legal strikes”).
Now granted, legal strikes in MMA can also incorporate elbows and kicks in addition to punches but I think the fact that both the number of punches and the effect of these punches is specifically called out in their rules is important.
However, for me the most important word in MMA’s definition of effective striking isn’t “number” or “significance.” It is “and.” If you read the definition slowly, it clearly states that strikes (punches in boxing) should be judged by determining both the number AND the significance of these strikes.
That clearly means if one contestant lands a whole lot of pity pat punches but do no damage, they should not be scored that heavily. The ultimate objective in boxing is to knockout your opponent. If that is not possible, the secondary objective is to inflict significant damage to your opponent and to prevent him or her from doing damage to you. I think the late boxing trainer Gil Clancy said it best: “You’ve got to deliver the goods and not stick around for a receipt.”
My simple point of all this is to suggest that the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) should consider revising the wording of their “clean punching” definition to include such possible words as “damage,” significant,” “substantial,” etc. that might help clear up the confusion that some judges have when scoring a round.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) to its credit reminds judges in its fundamentals of scoring about “the scoring of clean punches with power, number and accuracy.” I think that the ABC should seriously consider revising their Uniformed Rules of Boxing as they seek to better define “clean punching” and should follow the lead of the WBC.