MMA Rules & Regulations
In 2001, the New Jersey State Athletic Commission Board (NJSACB) met with other agencies to discuss regulating mixed martial arts. What came out of it was a uniform set of MMA rules and regulations agreed upon and adopted. These rules became the standard for conducting professional MMA events in North America, and for drawing up state and local rules. On July 30, 2009, they became the official "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts". The following information is based on the adopted rules. View the complete MMA Rules and Regulations for details.
Definition of MMA
The uniform rules defines mixed martial arts as: "unarmed combat" (competition in which a blow may be expected to cause injury) involving ... a combination of techniques from different disciplines of the martial arts, including, without limitation, grappling, submission holds, kicking and striking." (Rules and Regulations; Unified Rules and Other MMA Regulations, 2009)
MMA Weight Classes
- Flyweight - up to 125 lbs
- Bantamweight - 126 - 135 lbs
- Featherweight - 136 - 145 lbs
- Lightweight - 146 - 155 lbs
- Welterweight - 156 - 170 lbs
- Middleweight - 171 - 185 lbs
- Light Heavyweight - 186 - 205 lbs
- Heavyweight - 206 - 265 lbs
- Super Heavyweight - Over 265 lbs
*There are some exceptions to these weight rules. See official regulations for details.
The Fighting Ring
MMA competitions are held in a ring or fenced area.
Requirements for the Ring
- Dimensions must fall within 20 - 32 square feet, and contain red and blue designated corners directly across from one another.
- There must be 18 inches of floor beyond the ropes; floor must be foam padded.
- Platform may be up to four feet above the floor and must contain steps.
- Ring posts must be metal and up to three inches in diameter, extend to at least 58 inches high above the ring floor, and be padded.
- Rules require five padded ring ropes, at least 1 inch in diameter. Lowest rope must be 12 inches above the ring floor.
- There can be nothing obstructing the ring floor.
- Contestants are allowed one commission-approved stool each, to be cleaned and replaced after bouts.
- Each contestant's corner is to be provided with a clean water bucket, a plastic water bottle, and other approved supplies.
- Bandages are restricted to gauze cloth 15 yards long and 2 inches wide, attached by up to 10 feet of one-inch-wide surgeon's tape placed near wrist.
- Bandages must be placed evenly across the back of the hand and in the presence of the commission and manager, or other, see rules for details.
- No gloves are to be worn without approval.
- Approved mouthpieces are mandatory during competition.
- Dislodged mouthpieces must be cleaned and replaced after the referee has called "time".
- Men must wear approved groin protectors.
- Women must wear approved chest protectors (no groin protectors).
- Must weigh between 4 and 6 ounces, and be approved by the Commission, with exception.
Standard MMA apparel consists of:
- Shorts: board shorts, biking shorts, kick-boxing shorts, or as approved by the Commission.
- Commission-approved shirts only.
- Padded shoes are prohibited.
- Neat and clean.
- No excessive grease or other foreign substance is allowed on face or body.
- Head or facial hair that may interfere with the competition or exhibition is not allowed.
- No jewelry or piercing accessories are allowed during competition or exhibition.
- Non-championship MMA competitions consist of three rounds, each round being no more than 5 minutes long, with a 1-minute rest between rounds.
- Championship rounds consist of 5 rounds, each round being no more than 5 minutes long, with a 1-minute rest between rounds.
Stopping the Contest
- Only the referee may stop and start a competition.
- Only the referee or the ringside physician may enter the ring during a competition.
- Bouts are judged and scored by three judges, not including the referee.
- Scoring is based on the 10-point Must Scoring System, in which 10 points must be given to the winner of a round, and 9 points or less are given to the loser, with exceptions.
The following elements are what judges consider most when evaluating an event:
- Effective grappling
- Control of fighting area
- Effective aggressiveness
- Judged by determining the sum of legal strikes executed by a competitor.
- Judged by determining the total successful executions of legal takedowns and reversals.
Control of Fighting Area
- Judged by determining which contestant is setting the pace, location, and position of the bout.
- Determined by competitor's forward moves and landing legal strikes.
- Effectiveness at avoiding being struck, taken down, or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.
A round is scored as a:
- 10-10 round when both competitors are fighting evenly without one dominating the other.
- 10-9 round when one fighter narrowly wins and lands the most number of legal maneuvers.
- 10-8 round when a fighter overwhelmingly dominates by striking and grappling.
- 10-7 round when a contestant totally dominates by striking and grappling.
- Judges are to use a sliding scale regarding the duration of the time fighters are either standing or grounded. See rules for details.
Fouls in a competition or exhibition may result in penalties and include:
Head-butting, eye gouging, biting, spitting at the opponent, hair pulling, fish hooking, groin attacks, putting a finger into the opponent's orifice or wound, small joint manipulation, striking downward with the point of the elbow, hitting the spine or back of the head, kicking the kidney with the heel, throat strikes, clawing pinching or twisting the flesh, stomping on an opponent, holding an opponent's article of clothing, using abusive language, engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct, throwing the opponent out of the ring, applying a foreign substance to the hair or body to gain an advantage, and more.
- A competitor injured by a technical knock-out bad enough to terminate a bout loses the bout.
- In the case of an injury resulting from an intentional foul bad enough to end a bout, the competitor who caused the injury is either disqualified or has points deducted.
- If a competitor injures himself or herself while trying to foul the opponent, the injury will be treated the same as one resulting from a fair blow.
- If the injury resulting from an accidental foul is bad enough to stop a bout, it will be no contest if stopped before the completion of two rounds in a three-round bout, or before three rounds have been completed in a five-round bout.
- Incomplete rounds are scored the same as other rounds up until the stop.
Types of Results
- Submissions (made by physical, or verbal Tap Outs).
- Scoreboard decisions (unanimous, split, majority)
- Draws (unanimous, split, majority)
- Technical draw
- Technical decision
- No decision
Discover UFC, Rules and Regulations; Unified Rules and other MMA Regulations. Retrieved on August 30, 2012, from http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/rules-and-regulations