Every sport has its own unique set of rules, and mixed martial arts is no exception. These rules are there not only to create a fair and balanced way to determine the victor of a bout, but also to protect athletes as much as possible from serious injuries.
In 1993, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship was held, and since then, hundreds of fights in different MMA organizations have occurred. While individual states created fight rules and sanctioned fights through their athletic commissions, a standard set of rules did not actually exist nationwide until 2009 when the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were approved. For the most part, all sanctioned, professional MMA bouts in the United States now use these rules.
There are many different categories of rules, such as determining weight classes for fighters. The men have nine weight classes, ranging from flyweight to super heavyweight. The flyweight is for fighters 125 pounds or lighter, and the super heavyweight fighters must be at least 265 pounds. Women also have weight classes and while the names are similar, the weights are different. For example, flyweights are fighters who weigh 95 pounds or less and female super heavyweights need only exceed 185 pounds.
The rules of MMA state that bouts consist of three to five rounds, lasting for five minutes with a one-minute break in between rounds. Non-title fights can last for three rounds, and title fights can last for five rounds. Each of these rounds MMA fights can end in several allowable ways. If the fighters make it through all of the rounds, the bout’s winner is determined by the decision of three judges. A knockout is another way a fight ends, and this is exactly what it sounds like – one of the fighters has been knocked unconscious. A technical knockout is another way for a fight to end, and this usually means that the referee has ended the fight out of concern for the safety of one of the fighters.
While those first three are similar to boxing, MMA has a few extra ways that a fight can end. A submission is a common way in which a fight can end, and this simply means that a fighter cannot escape from a hold and sometimes the referee will end the fight and sometimes the fighter will tap the mat to end the fight. One more rare way a fight ends is by a no contest ruling, and this occurs when someone injures a fighter unintentionally using a move that is illegal or has taken an illegal substance and tests positive after the fight. It also can occur if both fighters violate the rules. A disqualification also can end a fight if one of the fighters receives three or more warnings during a bout.
While it might seem like anything goes during an MMA fight, there are actually many things that are not legal. For example, eye gouging, head butting and biting are never allowed in a fight. You also are not allowed to strike a person’s spine or the back of their head. Fish hooking and groin attacks also are not allowed. These are just a few illegal maneuvers, and you receive a warning if you violate the rules.