Rules of Mixed Martial Arts Fighting
The rules of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) differ slightly from one promotion to the next because each fighting organization can create unique rules. For example, the regulations for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) may differ slightly from the rules for Strikeforce.
Every event must comply with the athletic commission rules of the state in which the event is being held. MMA rules regulate weight classes, no-no’s during fighting, and approved ways to end a fight.
Athletic commissions from several states created the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, a set of rules that have been adopted by fighting promotions worldwide. These rules are the most widely used rules for MMA.
Weight classes in MMA competitions
No matter where you’re fighting, one of the most basic rules of MMA is that you must fight within your weight class. For instance, a male lightweight who weighs 150 pounds would never be matched with a male heavyweight who weighs 240 pounds. That kind of pairing is saved solely for cartoons.
If you don’t make weight for a match, you can be disqualified and possibly fined by the promotion. The following tables are rundowns of the specific weight classes defined in the Unified Rules of MMA.
|Flyweight||Up to 105 lbs|
|Super flyweight||105.1–115 lbs|
|Super bantamweight||125.1–135 lbs|
|Super lightweight||155.1–165 lbs|
|Super welterweight||175.1–185 lbs|
|Super middleweight||195.1–205 lbs|
|Light heavyweight||205.1–225 lbs|
|Super heavyweight||Over 265 lbs|
|Flyweight||Up to 95 lbs|
|Light heavyweight||145.1–155 lbs|
|Super heavyweight||Over 185 lbs|
MMA no-no’s in fighting
Although every MMA fighting organization has its own specific rules, some universal no-no’s do exist. They’re listed in the Unified Rules of MMA, but here’s a quick look at what’s not allowed:
No groin attacks.
No knees to the head on a grounded opponent.
No strikes to the back of the head or the spine.
No head butts. (Sorry, soccer fans.)
No eye gouging.
No fish hooking.
No fingers in an opponent’s orifices. (Eww!)
No hair pulling. (Besides, that’s so second grade.)
No strikes or grabbing of the throat.
No manipulation of the fingers or toes.
No intentional grabbing of the ring or cage.
No intentional throwing of your opponent outside of the ring or cage. (That stuff belongs in professional wrestling.)
Accidentally performing one of these actions in a fight earns you an automatic warning from the referee. If your opponent was injured from your accidental action, he’ll get five minutes to recover.
Approved ways to end an MMA fight
An MMA competition can end in one of several ways:
Decision. If a fight lasts all rounds, the outcome is decided by three judges. Each fighting promotion has its own unique point system.
Disqualification (DQ). Think of this as a sort of “three strikes and you’re out” policy. Each time a fighter engages in an illegal move, he receives a warning. After three warnings, he’s disqualified. A DQ can also be called if a fighter has been injured by an illegal move that seemed intentional.
Forfeit. A fighter can announce a forfeit before a match begins if he’s injured.
Knockout (KO). A knockout is when a fighter loses consciousness thanks to his opponent’s strikes.
No contest. If both fighters violate the rules, or if a fighter is injured by an unintentional illegal action, a no-contest call can result. No contest is rarely called in MMA fights.
Submission. If one fighter achieves a submission hold, the fighter trapped in the hold can call defeat by tapping out on his opponent’s body or the mat, or by making a verbal announcement. Some defeated fighters fail to tap out and become incapacitated. In such cases, the referee calls an end to the fight.
Technical knockout (TKO). A technical knockout, when a fight is ended by the referee, doctor, or fighter’s corner, can be called in a few ways. The referee can call one when a fighter is no longer defending himself, usually due to an effective attack by his opponent.
A doctor can also call a TKO if it’s clear that continuing the fight could be dangerous. And finally, a fighter’s corner can throw in a towel to admit defeat, resulting in a TKO.