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Recreation and Sports

A complete guide of New Unified MMA rules

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts are designed to establish a consistent set of rules for professional MMA combat across the jurisdictions of numerous sports commissions and other regulating bodies. Various sports commissions presented and agreed on the framework of the Unified Rules of MMA in the 2000s, and the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) unanimously recognized them on July 30, 2009.

The unified rules of MMA govern

  • At the referee’s discretion, disqualification may result after any combination of fouls or after a flagrant foul.
  • The official scorekeeper may deduct a point from the violating contestant’s score if he or she commits a foul. After subtracting the point deduction, the true score will be calculated by the scorekeeper, not the judges.
  • A foul can only be assessed by a referee. If the referee fails to call a foul, the judges must not make that determination on their own and should not include it in their score calculations.


In a mixed martial arts contest, the following actions are considered fouls and may result in penalties, at the discretion of the referee:

  • Head butting
  • Gouging of the eyes
  • Spitting or biting at an opponent
  • Fish hooking
  • Pulling hair
  • Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck
  • Strikes to the back of the head or spine
  • Throat strikes and/or grabbing the trachea
  • Fingers outstretched at an opponent’s eyes/face
  • Elbow strike, pointing downward
  • Groin attacks
  • Kicking and or kneeing the head of a grounded opponent
  • Stomping at a grounded opponent
  • Holding opponent’s shorts or gloves
  • Holding or grabbing the fence or ropes with fingers or toes
  • Small joint manipulation
  • Throwing opponent out of ring/fighting area
  • Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice or any cut or laceration of an opponent
  • Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh
  • Timidity (avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury)
  • Using abusive language in the fighting area
  • Flagrant disregarding of the referee’s instructions
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct that causes injury to an opponent
  • Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat
  • Attacking an opponent on or during the break
  • Punching an opponent who is under the care of the referee
  • Interference from a mixed martial artist’s corner or seconds

Prohibited substances

Apart from the obvious no doping policy, it is strictly forbidden to apply body grease, gels, balms, lotions, oils, or other substances to the hair, face, or body.Moreover excessive amounts of water “dumped” on a competitor to make him, or her slick are examples of this. In the presence of an inspector, referee, or person authorised by the commission, Vaseline may be administered exclusively to the face region at cage side or ringside. Any participant who uses something other than Vaseline might be docked a point or face disqualifaction.

Number of rounds per bout and round duration

Fighters compete in five-minute rounds, three rounds for non-title bouts and five rounds for title bouts with a 1-minute rest between rounds.

Weight classes

  • Flyweight up to 125 lbs.
  • Bantamweight over 125 – 135 lbs.
  • Featherweight over 135 – 145 lbs.
  • Lightweight over 145 – 155 lbs.
  • Welterweight over 155 – 170 lbs.
  • Middleweight over 170 – 185 lbs.
  • Light Heavyweight over 185 – 205 lbs.
  • Heavyweight over 205 – 265 lbs.
  • Super Heavyweight over 265 lbs.

Medical requirements

Athlete attire and equipment

  • Handwraps

Prior to every competition, all mixed martial arts competitors must bandage and tape their hands. In all weight classes, the bandages on each contestant’s hand must make of soft gauze fabric no more than 10 yards long and two inches wide, fast in place by no more than 10 feet of one-inch-wide surgeon’s tape for each hand. For protection around the wrist, surgeon’s adhesive tape should be applying directly to each hand.

When the hand is clinched to create a fist, the tape may span the back of the hand twice and extend to cover and protect the knuckles, unlike boxing wraps. The bandages must be spread uniformly across the hand.So In the presence of the inspector and, if justified, the manager or chief second of his or her opponent, bandages and tape shall be applied on the contestant’s hands in the dressing room.

Gloves must not be placed on a contestant’s hands until the inspector has given his or her clearance. Additional to tape and gauze, no other materials may be use.

  • Gloves

All competitors must wear gloves that are at least 4 ounces in weight and have been approved by the Commission. The promoter shall provide the gloves, no participant is allowed to bring their own gloves to the competition.

 Fighter Appearance

It is suggesting that a Commission inspector or referee attend each event with a clipper and a file to verify the length of all contestants’ fingernails.

 Combat Area

All MMA fights will take place in either a cage or a ring that the Commission has approved. Each Commission’s standards will be met, and the Cage or Ring will be inspected by a Commission representative, such as a referee, prior to each event.

These unified rules are often updated over the years, check out MMA referee John McCarthy walk you through some changes from 2016. You know the rules, time to get your gear sorted! Browse here.

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