As more states legalize and sanction mixed martial arts events these Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts drawn up by the California State Athletic Commission, codified by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in 2000 and adopted by the Nevada Athletic Commission in 2001 are becoming standard to safeguard fighters.
Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules
Weight Classes of Mixed Martial Artists
1. Flyweight - Under 125.9 lbs
2. Bantamweight - 126 to 134.9 lbs
3. Featherweight - 135 to 144.9 lbs
4. Lightweight - 145 to 154.9 lbs
5. Welterweight - 155 to 169.9 lbs
6. Middleweight - 170 to 184.9 lbs
7. Light Heavyweight - 185 to 204.9 lbs
8. Heavyweight - 204 to 264.9 lbs
9. Super Heavyweight - Over 265 lbs
a. The fighting area canvas shall be no smaller than 18 feet by 18 feet and no larger than 32 feet by 32 feet. The fighting area canvas shall be padded in a manner as approved by the Commissioner, with at least one inch layer of foam padding. Padding shall extend beyond the fighting area and over the edge of the platform. No vinyl or other plastic rubberized covering shall be permitted.
b. The fighting area canvas shall not be more than four feet above the floor of the building and shall have suitable steps or ramp for use by the participants. Posts shall be made of metal not more than six inches in diameter, extending from the floor of the building to a minimum height of 58 inches above the fighting area canvas and shall be properly padded in a manner approved by the Commissioner.
c. The fighting area canvas area shall be enclosed by a fence made of such material as will not allow a fighter to fall out or break through it onto the floor or spectators, including, but not limited to, vinyl coated chain link fencing. All metal parts shall be covered and padded in a manner approved by the Commissioner and shall not be abrasive to the fighters.
d. The fence shall provide two separate entries onto the fighting area canvas.
a. A ring stool of a type approved by the Commissioner shall be available for each fighter.
b. An appropriate number of stools or chairs, of a type approved by the Commissioner, shall be available for each fighter's seconds. Such stools or chairs shall be located near each fighter's corner.
c. All stools and chairs used must be thoroughly cleaned or replaced after the conclusion of each fight.
For each fight, the promoter shall provide a clean water bucket and a clean plastic water bottle in each corner.
Specifications for Bandages on Mixed Martial Artist's Hands
a. In all weight classes, the bandages on each fighter's hand shall be restricted to soft gauze cloth not more than 13 yards in length and two inches in width, held in place by not more than 10 feet of surgeon's tape, one inch in width, for each hand.
b. Surgeon's adhesive tape shall be placed directly on each hand for protection near the wrist. The tape may cross the back of the hand twice and extend to cover and protect the knuckles when the hand is clenched to make a fist.
c. The bandages shall be evenly distributed across the hand.
d. Bandages and tape shall be placed on the fighter's hands in the dressing room in the presence of the inspector and in the presence of the manager or chief second of his or her opponent.
e. Under no circumstances are gloves to be placed on the hands of a fighter until the approval of the inspector is received.
a. All fighters are required to wear a mouthpiece during competition. The mouthpiece shall be subject to examination and approval by the attending physician.
b. The round cannot begin without the mouthpiece in place.
c. If the mouthpiece is involuntarily dislodged during competition, the referee shall call time, clean the mouthpiece and reinsert the mouthpiece at the first opportune moment, without interfering with the immediate action.
a. Male mixed martial artists shall wear a groin protector of their own selection, of a type approved by the Commissioner.
b. Female mixed martial artists are prohibited from wearing groin protectors.
c. Female mixed martial artists shall wear a chest protector during competition. The chest protector shall be subject to approval of the Commissioner.
a. The gloves shall be new for all main events and in good condition or they must be replaced.
b. All fighters shall wear either four, five or six ounce gloves, supplied by the promoter and approved by the commission. No fighter shall supply their own gloves for participation.
a. Each fighter shall wear mixed martial arts shorts, biking shorts, or kick-boxing shorts.
b. Gi's or shirts are prohibited during competition.
c. Shoes are prohibited during competition.
a. All fighters shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a fighter may wear a closely cropped mustache.
b. Hair shall be trimmed or tied back in such a manner as not to interfere with the vision of either fighter or cover any part of a fighter's face.
c. Jewelry or piercing accessories are prohibited during competition.
a. Each non-championship mixed martial arts fight shall be three rounds, of five minutes duration, with a one minute rest period between each round.
b. Each championship mixed martial arts fight shall be five rounds, of five minutes duration, with a one minute rest period between each round.
Stopping a Contest
• The referee and ringside physician are the sole arbiters of a fight and are the only individuals authorized to enter the fighting area at any time during competition and authorized to stop a fight.
a. All fights will be evaluated and scored by three judges.
b. The 10-Point Must System will be the standard system of scoring a fight. Under the 10-Point Must Scoring System, 10 points must be awarded to the winner of the round and nine points or less must be awarded to the loser, except for a rare even round, which is scored (10-10).
c. Judges shall evaluate mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.
d. Evaluations shall be made in the order in which the techniques appear above, giving the most weight in scoring to effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area and effective aggressiveness and defense.
e. Effective striking is judged by determining the total number of legal heavy strikes landed by a fighter.
f. Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active, threatening guard.
g. Fighting area control is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the fight. Examples of factors to consider are countering a grappler's attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking ; taking down an opponent to force a ground fight; creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.
h. Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike.
i. Effective defense means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.
j. The following objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges when scoring a round;
1. A round is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both fighters appear to be fighting evenly and neither fighter shows clear dominance in a round;
2. A round is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a fighter wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other maneuvers;
3. A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a fighter overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round.
4. A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a fighter totally dominates by striking or grappling in a round.
k. Judges shall use a sliding scale and recognize the length of time the fighters are either standing or on the ground, as follows:
1. If the mixed martial artists spent a majority of a round on the canvas, then:
i. effective grappling is weighed first; and
ii. effective striking is then weighed.
2. If the mixed martial artists spent a majority of a round standing, then:
i. effective striking is weighed first; and
ii. effective grappling is then weighed.
3. If a round ends with a relatively even amount of standing and canvas fighting, striking and grappling are weighed equally.
Types of Bout Results
a. The following are the types of bout results:
1. Submission by:
i. Tap Out:When a fighter physically uses his hand to indicate that he or she no longer wishes to continue; or
ii. Verbal tap out:When a fighter verbally announces to the referee that he or she does not wish to continue;
2. Technical knockout by:
i. Referee stops fight;
ii. Ringside physician stops fight; or
iii. When an injury as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a fight;
3. Knockout by failure to rise from the canvas;
4. Decision via score cards:
i. Unanimous: When all three judges score the fight for the same fighter;
ii. Split Decision: When two judges score the fight for one fighter and one judge scores for the opponent; or
iii. Majority Decision: When two judges score the fight for the same fighter and one judge scores a draw;
i. Unanimous: When all three judges score the fight a draw;
ii. Majority: When two judges score the fight a draw; or
iii. Split: When all three judges score differently and the score total results in a draw;
6. Disqualification: When an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an intentional foul is severe enough to terminate the fight;
7. Forfeit: When a fighter fails to begin competition or prematurely ends the fight for reasons other than injury or by indicating a tap out;
8. Technical Draw: When an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an intentional foul causes the injured fighter to be unable to continue and the injured fighter is even or behind on the score cards at the time of stoppage;
9. Technical Decision: When the fight is prematurely stopped due to injury and a fighter is leading on the score cards; and
10. No Contest: When a fight is prematurely stopped due to accidental injury and a sufficient number of rounds have not been completed to render a decision via the score cards
a. The referee shall issue a single warning for the following infractions. After the initial warning, if the prohibited conduct persists, a penalty will be issued. The penalty may result in a deduction of points or disqualification.
1. Holding or grabbing the fence;
2. Holding opponent's shorts or gloves; or
3. The presence of more than one second on the fighting area perimeter.
a. The following are fouls and will result in penalties if committed:
1. Butting with the head
2. Eye gouging of any kind
3. Biting or spitting at an opponent
4. Hair pulling
5. Fish hooking
6. Groin attacks of any kind
7. Intentionally placing a finger in any opponent's orifice
8. Downward pointing of elbow strikes
9. Small joint manipulation
10. Strikes to the spine or back of the head
11. Heel kicks to the kidney
12. Throat strikes of any kind
13. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle
14. Kicking the head of a grounded fighter
15. Kneeing the head of a grounded fighter
16. Stomping of a grounded fighter
17. The use of abusive language in fighting area
18. Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent
19. Attacking an opponent on or during the break
20. Attacking an opponent who is under the referee's care at the time
21. Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury)
22. Interference from a mixed martial artists seconds
23. Throwing an opponent out of the fighting area
24. Flagrant disregard of the referee's instructions
25. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck.
b. Disqualification occurs after any combination of three or the fouls listed in (a) above or after a referee determines that a foul was intentional and flagrant.
c. Fouls will result in a point being deducted by the official scorekeeper from the offending mixed martial artist's score.
d. Only a referee can assess a foul. If the referee does not call the foul, judges shall not make that assessment on their own and cannot factor such into their scoring calculations.
e. A fouled fighter has up to five minutes to recuperate.
f. If a foul is committed, the referee shall:
1. call time
2. check the fouled mixed martial artist's condition and safety; and
3. assess the foul to the offending fighter, deduct points, and notify each corner's seconds, judges and the official scorekeeper.
g. If a bottom fighter commits a foul, unless the top fighter is injured, the fight shall continue, so as not to jeopardize the top fighter's superior positioning at the time.
1. The referee shall verbally notify the bottom fighter of the foul.
2. When the round is over, the referee shall assess the foul and notify both corners' seconds, the judges and the official scorekeeper.
3. The referee may terminate a fight based on the severity of a foul. For such a flagrant foul, a fighter shall lose by disqualification.
Injuries Sustained During Competition
a. If an injury sustained during the fight is a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a fight, the injured fighter loses by technical knockout.
b. If an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an intentional foul is severe enough to terminate a fight, the fighter causing the injury loses by disqualification.
c. If an injury is sustained during the fight is a result of an intentional foul and the fight is allowed to continue, the referee shall notify the scorekeeper to automatically deduct two points from the fighter who committed the foul.
d. If an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an intentional foul causes the injured fighter to be unable to continue at a subsequent point in the fight, the injured fighter shall win by technical decision, if he or she is ahead on the score cards. If the injured fighter is even or behind on the score cards at the time of stoppage, the outcome of the fight shall be declared a technical draw.
e. If a fighter injures himself or herself while attempting to foul his or her opponent, the referee shall not take any action in his or her favor, and the injury shall be treated in the same manner as an injury produced by a fair blow.
f. If an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the fight immediately, the fight shall result in a no fight if stopped before two rounds have been completed in a three round fight or if stopped before three rounds have been completed in a five round fight.
g. If an injury sustained during the fight is a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the fight immediately, the fight shall result in a technical decision awarded to the fighter who is ahead on the score cards at the time the fight is stopped only when the fight is stopped after two rounds of a three round fight, or three rounds of a five round fight have been completed.
h. There will be no scoring of an incomplete round. However, if the referee penalizes either fighter, then the appropriate points shall be deducted when the scorekeeper calculates the final score.