Punching downed opponent in the face now legal in cage fights

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Fighters like the new rules

PHOENIX - The rough sport of cage fighting got even more violent in Arizona tonight.

A new law now allows fighters to use even more extreme measures to take down their opponents and as you might imagine not everyone supports it.

The fighters can now use elbow and knee jabs on their opponents even if they're on the ground.

Critics say it's too much and it'll lead to more serious injuries, but others say those moves are allowed in other states and banning them in Arizona was keeping bigger fights and lucrative TV deals away.

Cage fighting is called mixed martial arts by those involved.

But as violent as it may look fighters, trainers and promoters 3TV talked to say it's not just a brutal blood sport for amateurs.

"It's highly technical, exact sport, and the athletes are highly trained for it," Charlie Ward said.

Elbow and knee strikes to the head are now ok and when one fighter gets knocked to the ground, the other is now allowed to use elbow strikes and closed-fist punches to his head.

The concerns of many, including some state boxing officials, are allowing knee kicks and elbows to the head will lead to more serious injuries

But the fighters seem undaunted.

"No if you're a professional you should be prepared for the new rules," cage fighter Ben Henderson said.

"I do think this is a great thing for the sport," trainer Jason Beck said.

Promoters and trainers like Beck support the new law and insist safety is their top priority.

"You can tap out and the referee's always watching over you," Beck said.

"There's medical staff right there and same safety precautions as any other boxing match or full contact event," Ward said.

They've been fighting for the rules to change for years and their fighters say they're prepared.

The fighters will get their chance at a number of fights coming up.

One is tomorrow in Prescott and others over the next two weekends here in the Valley, all under these new laws.