History of the Octagon


You might have wondered what it is that MMA fighters compete in. It's not a ring, or a square, but an Octagon! As the word implies, an Octagon is a fighting cage containing eight sides. Read on to find out a little history of the Octagon, its parts and dimensions, the logic behind it, and who's allowed in the cage during fights!

The Octagon's parts and sizes

The 750 square-foot enclosure, stretching 32 feet across and standing about six feet high, is comprised of a custom-painted canvas mat used only once and then replaced after the event. The mat is surrounded by a vinyl-coated chain link fence with two gates that are shut at the start of rounds. The cage sits on top a 4-foot-high platform. The top of the fence and between each of the eight sections are padded with foam.

The logic behind the design

According to the UFC, the cage was designed with two things in mind: fairness and safety. Several fighting styles have gone into the making of mixed martial arts. Two of its most basic influences, boxing and wrestling, are traditionally fought in their own kind of enclosures. Boxing is done in a ring, and wrestling in a square cage. The Octagon, an idea and term originally trademarked by the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG), but now reserved by *Zuffa, represents no preference for any one type of fighting style, giving all MMA athletes an equal advantage. Plus, the wide angles of the Octagon prevent a fighter from being trapped in a corner. In safety matters, the cage's high walls prevent fighters from falling out, or being thrown out by their opponents. Believe it or not, it's been tried! The spacious enclosure also provides ample view of the fighters from the surrounding seats.

*Zuffa is an American sports promoter of mixed martial arts under the UFC banner.

Who's in, and who's out

The only ones allowed in the cage during a bout are two fighters and one referee. Each fighter is assigned to either a red corner, or a blue corner. Cornermen are allowed inside the cage between bouts to counsel their respective fighters, and give them strategic advice. Cutmen, or first aid officials who treat their fighter's wounds and massage their muscles, are allowed inside the Octagon between bouts. Fighters are not allowed to go outside the Octagon during a bout.

Officials not allowed in the Octagon but who have designated positions outside the Octagon include the judges, commentators, UFC executives, and "the Octagon girls", the women assigned to circle the Octagon during a game in order to signal to the spectators which round is being played.


Welcome to the Octagon. Retrieved on Sept. 13, 2012, from http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/octagon

Strickland, Jonathan. How the Ultimate Fighting Championship Works. Retrieved on Sept. 13, 2012, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/ufc1.htm

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