Mixed Martial Arts – Rules

Since the early days of UFC 1 and shoot wrestling etc., the rules of MMA have changed quite a lot. The audience came to know more about the fighting styles and saw the danger and wanted more reasonable rules. This perception barbarism and lawlessness was to be changed and MMA had to be recognized as a legitimate sport.

The new rules which were established included the introduction of weight classes. In MMA, there are nine different weight classes according to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (URMMA). These include −

  • Flyweight – Up to 56.7 kg
  • Bantam weight – Up to 61.2 kg
  • Featherweight – Up to 65.8 kg
  • Lightweight – Up to 70.3 kg
  • Welterweight – Up to 77.1 kg
  • Middleweight – Up to 83.9 kg
  • Light Heavyweight – Up to 93.0 kg
  • Heavyweight – Up to 120.2 kg
  • Super Heavyweight – No upper limit

The Fighting Area

MMA competitions are held in a ring or a fenced area according to the rules and regulations of UFC. If fenced, it should be round or have a minimum of six sides. If caged, it should be an octagon shaped cage (8 sides).

Fighting Area

Protecting the Fists

To protect the fists, small open-fingered gloves were introduced so as to reduce the possibilities of cuts on fists and rather increase the confidence of the fighter to strike better leading to a more exhilarating match.

Protect Fists

In most of the professional fights, players have to wear 4 oz gloves. In some other styles, amateurs have to wear 6 oz gloves for better protection of fists and wrists.

Avoiding Lengthy Fights

To avoid lengthier fights with quite less action and unpredicted airing of live events, time limits were established. In most of the professional fights, there are three rounds of 5 minutes each. In championships, the fights are normally five rounds of 5 minutes each.

A Japan based organized, Pride Fighting Championships, held an opening 10-minutes round which was then followed by two shorter 5-minutes rounds. A fighter can stomp, kick, and can use knee strikes to the head, but cannot strike with the elbow on the head.

The rules may differ from championships to championships. In a Singapore based organization, the ONE Championship allows kicks and knees to head and also elbow strikes to the head, but prohibits from head stomps.


A fighter is declared as the winner, either by the judges or a stoppage by the referee in the following cases −

  • If a fighter isn’t able to defend himself

  • By the fight doctor if there is some injury

  • If someone submits himself

  • By a competitor’s corner man throwing in the towel

  • By knockout

Knockout (KO)

If a fighter strikes the opponent and the opponent is not able to continue anymore, the striker wins the round and the fight is stopped so that the fallen fighter doesn’t get further injured.


A fighter can submit himself (accept defeat) by the following gestures −

  • Tapping out, on the floor or the body of the opponent
  • Saying it out loud that he quits

There is technical submission as well, where the referee stops the fight if the fighter who is caught in a submission hold and is in danger of being injured. This submission usually happens when a fighter gets choked to unconsciousness or when a bone breaks due to a submission hold.


Technical Knockout (TKO)

A referee declares a technical knockout in case of the following situations −

  • Unable to defend − A fight can be stopped if a fighter cannot defend himself and takes a lot of damage from the dominating fighter.

  • Losing Consciousness − A fight can be stopped if a fighter appears to be losing his or her consciousness.

  • Serious Injury − A fight can be stopped if a fighter appears to have a serious injury like a broken bone or severe cut.

  • Doctor Stoppage − A fight can be stopped in case a fighter gets injured and needs immediate doctor’s attention. The other fighter will be declared as the winner. But if there’s any illegal action by that fighter, he will be disqualified.

  • Corner Stoppage − The corner men of a fighter can throw in the towel and stop the fight if they feel their fighter is taking too much damage and could result in severe injuries.

  • Retirement − A fight can be stopped if a fighter can no longer fight due to exhaustion or nausea.

  • Forfeit − A fighter forfeits the match before it begins, resulting in the winning of the opponent.

  • Disqualification − If a fighter commits an illegal action or a foul, he will be warned by the referee. After three warnings, the fighter is disqualified.

  • No Contest − In case both the fighters commit illegal actions, or one of the fighters cannot continue to fight due to illegal action(s) by the opponent, then the fight is declared as no contest.

  • Technical Decision − According to the unified rules of MMA, if a fighter cannot continue due to unintentional illegal actions near the end of the match, a technical decision is given by the judges based on who was better on their scorecards. A majority of the rounds must be completed before declaring a technical decision, like 2/3 rounds must be completed in a three round match and 3/5 rounds must be over in a five round match.

Ranking of a fighter

All the MMA fighters are ranked according to their performance and their results against the competition they had to face. Various sorts of ranking portals are used for these rankings. Some of the most popular ones are as follows −

  • Fight Matrix − The top 250-500 fighters of the world are ranked for every possible divisions of male and female.

  • Sherdog − Here, the top 10 fighters worldwide are ranked for the available UFC divisions.

  • SB Nation − The top 14 male fighters of the world are ranked here.

  • UFC − The UFC ranks the top 15 contenders signed by them as per their directions.


The male typically wear shorts and nothing else. Female fighters wear shorts and sports bras or similar tops. Both of them have to wear mouth guards as a safety measure.

The clothing needs to be durable, comfortable and flexible as the fighter will be using his legs a lot. There are a range of short brands which make MMA clothing and casual wear available to the public.