Pro MMA Rules

  1. Each round shall consist of a five (5) minute duration (professional), with a one (1) minute rest
    period between rounds.
    a. No contests shall exceed five (5) rounds and/or twenty-five (25) minutes.
    b. Bouts may consist of one (1), two (2), three (3), four (4), or five (5) rounds, with a five
    (5) minute duration.
    c. No contestant shall exceed competing more than five (5) rounds and/or twenty-five
    (25) minutes of fighting in a twenty-four (24) hour period.
  2. The referee is the sole arbiter of a bout and is the only individual authorized to stop a contest.
    This shall not preclude a video or other review of a decision under the procedure of the
    applicable regulatory authority if a protest is filed claiming a clear rule violation.
    a. The authority of a referee begins when the inspector(s) exit the cage/ring and does
    not end until the inspector(s) re-enter the cage/ring, upon conclusion of the fight.
  3. Instant replay may be used to review a “Fight Ending Sequence” and shall only be used after a
    fight has been officially stopped. Once instant replay has been used to review a fight ending
    sequence, the fight shall not be resumed.
  4. All fighters are required to wear a mouthpiece during competition. The round cannot begin
    without the mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece is dislodged during competition, the referee will call
    time and have the mouthpiece replaced at the first opportune moment, without interfering with
    the immediate action. Points may be deducted by the referee if he/she feels the mouthpiece is
    being purposefully spit out.
  5. If an MMA bout is being conducted in a ring and is a fighter is knocked out of the ring, the fighter
    must return to the ring unassisted by spectators or his/her seconds. If assisted by anyone, the
    fighter may lose points or be disqualified with such a decision being within the sole discretion of
    the referee. Once knocked from the ring, the competitor will have five (5) minutes to return to
    fighting surface, similar to an accidental foul, but shall be examined by the ringside physician
    before returning to action.
  6. The reapplication of petroleum jelly or another similar substance, to the face, may be allowed
    between rounds and shall only be applied by an approved cutman or licensed cornerman.
  7. In instances where the fight has to be concluded due to unforeseen, non-combat related issues,
    the fight may go to the scorecards if:
    a. If the bout is scheduled for 3 rounds, 2 rounds of the contest must be completed
    b. If the bout is scheduled for 5 rounds, 3 rounds of the contest must be completed
  8. Hand Wraps.
    a. A maximum of one roll (no more than 2” wide by 15 yards in length) of white, soft, cloth
    gauze is permitted per hand. The gauze may not exceed the wrist of the competitor’s glove.
    The exposed thumb is an option to be protected.
    b. A maximum of one roll (no more than 1.25” wide by 10’ in length) of white athletic tape is
    permitted per hand. The tape may not exceed the wrist of the competitor’s gloves. Tape may
    be placed through the fingers but may not cover the knuckles. The exposed thumb is an option
    to be protected.
    c. A single layer of elastic or flex-type tape is allowed to be applied over the completed wrap.
    d. Approved tape/gauze of all brands may be allowed.
  9. Joint/Body Coverings.
    a. Other than the competitor’s hands, there will be no taping, covering, or protective gear, of
    any kind, on the upper body. This includes, but is not limited to: joint sleeves, padding, or any
    form of brace/body tape.
    b. A competitor may use a soft neoprene type sleeve to cover only the knee and/or ankle
    joints. Approved sleeves may not have: padding, Velcro, plastic, metal, ties, or any other
    material considered to be unsafe or that may create an unfair advantage. Tape, gauze, or any
    materials other than the approved sleeves are not permitted.
  10. Cage/Ring Attire.
    a. All mixed martial artists will be required to wear such protective gear as deemed necessary
    by the Commission.
    b. Male contestants shall not wear any form of clothing on their upper body.
    c. Male and female mixed martial artists shall wear the appropriate trunks, mouthpiece, and
    gloves. Male mixed martial artists shall also wear the appropriate groin protection.
    d. Female mixed martial artists shall wear a short sleeved (above the elbow) or sleeveless
    form fitting rash guard and/or sports bra(s). No loose-fitting tops and/or breast protectors shall
    be allowed. Female competitors will follow the same requirements for bottom covering as the
    male competitors, minus the requirement for groin protection.
    e. The hem of the trunks may not extend below the knee.
    f. Fighting shorts/trunks shall not have exposed Velcro, pockets, or zippers.
    g. Mixed martial artists in the same match, contest, or exhibition may wear different color
    trunks or be designated by glove taping and/or glove coloring to the corner they are assigned.
    h. Mixed martial artists shall not wear shoes in the cage or ring.
    i. When deemed necessary by the referee all mixed martial artists shall have their hair secured
    in a manner that does not interfere with the vision and safety of either contestant.
    i. No object can be worn to secure the contestant’s hair which may cause injury to either
    j. The wearing of jewelry will be strictly prohibited during all contests.
    k. Wearing body cosmetics shall be prohibited during all contests. Wearing facial cosmetics
    shall be at the discretion of the commission and/or referee.
    Standing up or Breaking Fighters
    The Referee shall either stand up or break the fighters when neither fighter is able to or fails to
    demonstrate real, significant and/or sustained effort to advance towards finishing the fight by any
    method. Simply maintaining what may be perceived as a superior position will not be considered
    effort to advance towards finishing the fight nor grounds for a guaranteed opportunity to maintain that
  11. Butting with the head;
    a. The head may not be used as a striking instrument in any fashion. Any use of the head as a
    striking instrument whether head to head, head to body or otherwise is illegal.
  12. Eye gouging of any kind;
    a. Eye gouging by means of fingers, chin, or elbow is illegal. Legal strikes or punches that
    contact the fighter’s eye socket are not eye gouging and shall be considered legal attacks.
  13. Biting or spitting at an opponent;
    a. Biting in any form is illegal. A fighter must recognize that a referee may not be able to
    physically observe some actions and must make the referee aware if they are being bit during
    an exhibition of unarmed combat.
  14. Fish Hooking;
    a. Any attempt by a fighter to use their fingers in a manner that attacks their opponent’s mouth,
    nose or ears, stretching the skin to that area will be considered “Fish hooking”. Fish hooking
    generally is the placing of fingers into the mouth or your opponent and pulling your hands in
    opposing directions while holding onto the skin of your opponent.
  15. Hair pulling;
    a. Pulling of the hair in any fashion is an illegal action. A fighter may not grab a hold of his
    opponent’s hair to control their opponent in any way. If a fighter has long hair, they may not
    use their hair as a tool for holding or choking in any fashion.
  16. Spiking the opponent to the canvas onto the head or neck (pile-driving);
    a. Any throw with an arc to its motion is to be considered a legal throw. It does not matter if the
    opponents head hits the canvas. A pile driver is considered to be any throw where you control
    your opponent’s body placing their feet up in the air with their head straight down and then
    forcibly drives the opponents head into the canvas or flooring material. It should be noted when
    a fighter is placed into a submission hold by their opponent, if that fighter is capable of
    elevating their opponent, they may bring that opponent down in any fashion they desire
    because they are not in control of their opponent’s body. The fighter who is attempting the
    submission can either adjust their position or let go of their hold before being slammed to the
  17. Strikes to the spine or the back of the head;
    a. The back of the head starts at the Crown of the head with a one (1) inch variance to either
    side, running down the back of the head to the occipital junction.
    b. This area stretches out at the occipital junction (nape of the neck) to cover the entire width
    of the neck. It then travels down the spine with a one (1) inch variance from the spine’s
    centerline, including the tailbone.
  18. Throat strikes of any kind and/or grabbing the trachea;
    a. No directed throat strikes are allowed. A directed attack would include a fighter pulling his
    opponents head in a way to open the neck area for a striking attack. A fighter may not gouge
    their fingers or thumb into their opponent’s neck or trachea in an attempt to submit their
    opponent. If during stand-up action of a fight a strike is thrown and the strike lands in the throat
    area of the fighter, this shall be viewed as a clean and legal blow.
  19. Fingers outstretched toward an opponent’s face/eyes;
    a. In the standing position, a fighter that moves their arm(s) toward their opponent with an open
    hand, fingers pointing at the opponent’s face/eyes, will be a foul. Referees are to prevent this
    dangerous behavior by communicating clearly to fighters. Fighters are directed to close their fists
    or point their fingers straight up in the air when reaching toward their opponent.
  20. Downward pointing elbow strike (12 to 6);
    a. The use of a linear “straight up straight down” elbow strike is prohibited. Any variation of this
    straight up and down linear elbow strike makes the strike legal. Any arc, or any angle change
    from straight up to straight down makes the strike legal. Any variation of position does not alter
    the legality of the strike.
  21. Groin attacks of any kind;
    a. Any attack to the groin area including, striking, grabbing, pinching or twisting is illegal. It
    should be clear that groin attacks are the same for men and women.
  22. Kneeing and/or Kicking the head of a grounded opponent.
    a. A grounded fighter is defined as: Anything other than the soles of the feet bearing weight.
  23. Stomping of a grounded fighter.
    a. Stomping is considered any type of striking action with the feet where the fighter lifts their
    leg up bending their leg at the knee and initiating a striking action with the bottom of their foot
    or heel.
    b. Axe kicks are not stomping. Standing foot stops are NOT a foul. As such, this foul does not
    include stomping the feet of a standing fighter.
  24. Holding opponent’s gloves or shorts.
    a. A fighter may not control their opponent’s movement by holding onto their opponent’s shorts
    or gloves. A fighter may hold onto or grab their opponent’s hand as long as they are not
    controlling the hand only by using the material of the glove, but by actually gripping the hand of
    the opponent. It is legal to hold onto your own gloves or shorts.
  25. Holding or grabbing the fence or ropes with fingers or toes;
    a. A fighter may put their hands on the fence and push off of it at any time. A fighter may
    place their feet onto the cage and have their toes go through the fencing material at any
    time. When a fighter’s fingers or toes go through the cage and grab hold of the fence
    and start to control either their body position or their opponent’s body position it now
    becomes an illegal action. A fighter may not grab the ropes or wrap their arms over or
    under the ring ropes at any time. The fighter may not purposely step through the ropes.
    If a fighter is caught holding the fence, cage or ring rope material the referee may issue
    a one-point deduction from the offending fighters scorecard if the foul caused a
    substantial effect in the fight. If a point deduction for holding the fence occurs, and
    because of the infraction, the fouling fighter ends up in a superior position due to the
    foul, the fighters should be re-started by the referee, standing in a neutral position.
  26. Small joint manipulation;
    a. Fingers and Toes are small joints. Wrists, Ankles, Knees, Shoulders and Elbows are
    all large joints. Grabbing the majority of fingers/toes at once is allowed.
  27. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or caged area;
    a. A fighter shall not throw their opponent out of the ring or cage.
  28. Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of your Opponent;
    a. A fighter may not place their fingers into an open laceration in an attempt to enlarge
    the cut. A fighter may not place their fingers into an opponent’s, nose, ears, mouth, or
    any body cavity.
  29. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh;
    a. Any attack that targets the fighter’s skin by clawing at the skin or attempting to pull or
    twist the skin to apply pain is illegal.
  30. Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistently dropping the mouthpiece, or faking an injury;
    a. Timidity is defined as any fighter who purposely avoids contact with his opponent or
    runs away from the action of the fight. Timidity can also be called by the referee for any
    attempt by a fighter to receive time by falsely claiming a foul, injury, or purposely
    dropping or spitting out their mouthpiece or other action designed to stall or delay the
    action of the fight
  31. Use of abusive language in the fighting area.
    a. The use of abusive language is not allowed during MMA competition. It is the sole
    responsibility of the referee to determine when language crosses over the line to
    abusive. It should be clear that fighters can talk during a match. The mere use of
    auditory language is not a violation of this rule. Examples of abusive language would be
    (Racially motivated or Derogatory language).
  32. Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions;
    a. A fighter MUST follow the instructions of the referee at all times. Any deviation or
    non-compliance may result in the fighter’s disqualification.
  33. Unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent;
    a. Every athlete competing in the sport of MMA is expected to represent the sport in a
    positive light emphasizing sportsmanship and humility. Any athlete that disrespects the
    rules of the sport or attempts to inflict unnecessary harm on a competitor who has been
    either taken out of the competition by the referee or has tapped out of the competition
    shall be viewed as being unsportsmanlike.
  34. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.
    a. The end of a round is signified by the sound of the bell and the call of time by the
    referee. Once the referee has made the call of time, any offensive actions initiated by
    the fighter shall be considered after the bell and illegal.
  35. Attacking an opponent on or during the break;
    a. A fighter shall not engage their opponent in any fashion during a time-out or break of
    action in competition.
  36. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee;
    a. Once the referee has called for a stop of the action to protect a fighter who has been
    incapacitated or is unable to continue to compete in the fight, fighters shall cease all
    offensive actions against their opponent.
  37. Interference from a mixed martial artist’s corner or seconds;
    a. Interference is defined as any action or activity aimed at disrupting the fight or
    causing an unfair advantage to be given to a corner’s combatant. Corners are not
    allowed to distract the referee or influence the actions of the referee in any fashion.
    A. Intentional Fouls
  38. If an intentional foul causes an injury, and the injury is severe enough to terminate the bout
    immediately, the fighter causing the injury shall lose by disqualification.
  39. If an intentional foul causes an injury and the bout is allowed to continue, the referee shall
    notify the authorities and deduct two (2) points from the fighter who caused the foul. Point
    deductions for intentional fouls will be mandatory.
  40. If an intentional foul causes a laceration and/or swelling and the bout is allowed to continue,
    and the injury results in the fight being stopped in any round after ½ of the scheduled rounds,
    of the fight has been completed, by either another legal or illegal strike, the injured fighter will
    win by TECHNICAL DECISION if they are ahead on the score cards; and the bout will result in
    a TECHNICAL DRAW if the injured fighter is behind or even on the score cards.
  41. If the fighter injures himself/herself while attempting to intentionally foul their opponent, the
    referee will not act in their favor, and this injury shall be the same as one produced by a fair
  42. If the referee feels that a fighter has conducted themselves in an unsportsmanlike manner,
    they may stop the action of the fight to deduct points or stop the bout to disqualify the fighter.
    B. Accidental Fouls
    1.If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout, the bout
    will result in either a NO CONTEST or DISQUALIFICATION if stopped before ½ of the
    scheduled rounds
  43. If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout after ½
    of the scheduled rounds, the bout will result in a TECHNICAL DECISION awarded to the
    fighter who is ahead on the score cards at the time the bout is stopped.
    i. Partial or incomplete rounds will be scored. If no action has occurred, the round
    should be scored as an even round. This is at the discretion of the judges.
  44. If a fighter, during the course of a round, visibly loses control of bodily function (vomit, urine,
    feces), the fight shall be stopped by the referee and the fighter shall lose the contest by a
    Technical Knockout (TKO) due to Medical Stoppage.
    i. In the event a loss of bodily function occurs in the rest period between rounds, the
    ringside physician shall be called in to evaluate if the combatant can continue. If the
    combatant is not cleared by the ringside physician to continue, that combatant shall lose
    by a Technical Knockout (TKO) due to Medical Stoppage.
    ii. If fecal matter becomes apparent at any time, the contest shall be halted by the referee, and
    the offending combatant shall lose by a Technical Knockout (TKO) due to Medical Stoppage
    C. Foul Procedures: If a foul is committed, the referee shall:
  45. Call Time;
  46. Check the fouled mixed martial artist’s condition and safety; and
  47. Assess the foul for potential point(s) deductions and/or time considerations.
  48. During all time out procedures, there shall be no coaching of a contestant permitted.
    D. Eye Poke Foul Procedure:
  49. Once the Referee calls time for the foul, the fighter is permitted the use of a cold
    compress or wet towel on the injured eye.
  50. Unless the fighter requires immediate medical attention the Referee and Ringside
    Physician shall allow the fighter time to compose themselves so the fighter can then
    give a verbal “yes” or “no” that they can see.
    • This procedure does not preclude the Ringside Physician from being able to evaluate
    the injury at any time during the timeout.
    E. Time Consideration:
  51. If a foul to the groin or eye poke occurs and the competitor is able to continue, the fouled
    contestant may have up to five (5) minutes to recover.
  52. Fighters injured severely enough by a foul to require medical consultation may be given up
    to five (5) minutes, at the referee’s discretion, for evaluation by the ringside physician before a
    decision to continue is rendered.
  53. At no time may a referee call a timeout to evaluate the impact of a legal strike, other than
    when a laceration is present.
    F. Utilizing a Cutperson after a foul but during a round:
  54. When a Fighter is the recipient of either an accidental or intentional foul and receives a
    laceration from the illegal action, the Referee in charge after calling time and putting the
    fighters into neutral corners MAY call upon the cutperson assigned (or in regional shows a
    corner with no coaching permitted) to the injured fighters corner to enter the cage during the 5-
    minute break and administer aid to the cut to help stop the bleeding. Then when cleared by
    the Ringside Physician the fighter can return to the action, with no more than the 5-minute time
    elapsed. The cutperson may only work on the cut or cuts associated with the foul.
    A. Judging Criteria
    a. All bouts will be evaluated and scored by a minimum of three (3) judges.
    b. The 10 Point Must System will be the standard of scoring about.
    i. 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/grappling(Plan A), effective aggressiveness(Plan B),and control of the fighting
    area(Plan C).Plans B and C are not taken into consideration unless Plan A is weighed as
    being even.
    d. Evaluations shall be made in the specific order in which the techniques appear in
    (c)above ,giving the most weight in scoring to effective striking/grappling, and effective
    aggressiveness, and control of the fighting area.
    e. Effective striking is judged by determining the impact/effect of legal strikes landed by a
    contestant solely based on the results of such legal strikes. Effective grappling is assessed by
    the successful executions and impactful/effective result(s)coming from: takedown(s),
    submission attempt(s), achieving an advantageous position(s) and reversal(s).
    f. Effective aggressiveness means aggressively making attempts to finish the fight.
    g. Fighting area control is assessed by determining who is dictating the pace, place and
    position of the bout.
    1.Thefollowing objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges when scoring a round:
    (i) Around is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both contestants have competed for
    whatever duration of time in the round and there is no difference or advantage between either
    (ii)Around is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a contestant wins by a close margin; where
    the winning fighter lands the better strikes or utilizes effective grappling during the round;
    (iii)A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a contestant wins the round by a large
    margin by impact, dominance, and duration of striking or grappling in a round.
    (iv)A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a contestant is completely dominated by
    impact, dominance, and duration of striking or grappling in a round.
  55. Impact: A judge shall assess if a fighter impacts their opponent significantly in the round, even
    though they may not have dominated the action. Impact includes visible evidence such as swelling
    and lacerations. Impact shall also be assessed when a fighter’s actions, using striking and/or
    grappling, lead to a diminishing of their opponent’s energy, confidence, abilities and spirit. All of these
    come as a direct result of impact. When a fighter is impacted by strikes, by lack of control and/or
    ability, this can create defining moments in the round and shall be assessed with great value.
  56. Dominance: As MMA is an offensive based sport, dominance of a round can be seen in striking
    when the losing fighter is forced to continually defend, with no counters or reaction taken when
    openings present themselves. Dominance in the grappling phase can be seen by fighter staking
    dominant positions in the fight and utilizing those positions to attempt fight ending submissions or
    attacks. Merely holding a dominant position(s) shall not be a primary factor in assessing dominance.
    What the fighter does with those positions is what must be assessed. In the absence of dominance in
    the grappling phase, as set forth in paragraph 3 of the promulgated rules, to be considered dominate,
    there must be a singularly or in combination, some types of submission attempts, strikes, or an
    overwhelming pace which is measured by improved or aggressive positional changes that cause the
    losing fighter to consistently be in a defensive or reactive mode
  57. Duration: Duration is defined by the time spent by one fighter effectively attacking, controlling, and
    impacting their opponent; while the opponent offers little to no offensive output. A judge shall assess
    duration by recognizing the relative time in a round when one fighter takes and maintains full control
    of the effective offense. This can be assessed both standing and grounded.
  58. Scoring of Incomplete Rounds: There should be scoring of incomplete rounds. If the referee
    penalizes either contestant, then the appropriate points shall be deducted when the scorekeeper
    calculates the final score for the partial round
    B. Types of Decisions
    a. Submission by:
    i. Tap Out: When a contestant physically uses of their body to indicate that he or she no longer
    wishes to continue; or
    ii. Verbal Tap Out: When a contestant verbally announces or voluntarily/involuntarily screams
    in pain or distress to the referee that they do not wish to continue;
    iii. Technical Submission: When a legal submission act results in unconsciousness or
    broken/dislocated bone(s)/joint(s).
    b. Technical Knockout (TKO) by:
    i. Referee Stoppage: the referee stops the contest because the combatant IS NOT
  59. Strikes
  60. Laceration
  61. Corner Stoppage
  62. Did Not Answer the Bell
    ii. TKO due to Medical Stoppage;
  63. Laceration
  64. Doctor Stoppage
  65. Loss of control of bodily function.
    c. Knockout (KO) by:
    i. Referee Stoppage: the referee stops the contest because the combatant CANNOT
  66. Due to Strikes
    d. Disqualification:
    i. When an injury sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul is severe
    enough to terminate the contest, multiple fouls have been assessed, and/or there is flagrant
    disregard for the rules and/or referee’s commands.
    e. No Contest:
    i. When a contestant is prematurely stopped due to accidental injury and a sufficient amount of
    time has not been completed to render a decision via the score cards.
    f. Decisions:
    i. Unanimous Decision: When all three judges score the bout for the same contestant;
    ii. Split Decision: When two judges score the bout for one contestant and one judge scores for
    the opponent; or
    iii. Majority Decision: When two judges score the bout for the same contestant and one judge
    scores a draw;
    iv. Technical Decision: When a bout is prematurely stopped due to injury from an accidental
    foul and a contestant is leading on the score cards;
    g. Draws:
    i. Unanimous Draw – When all three judges score the bout a draw;
    ii. Majority Draw – When two judges score the bout a draw; or
    iii. Split Draw – When all three judges score differently and the score total results in a draw;
    iv. Technical Draw – When an injury is sustained during competition as a result of an intentional
    foul and the bout is allowed to continue, then later the injury requires stoppage from either a
    legal or illegal strike to the affected area after ½ of the scheduled rounds has been completed,
    if the injured contestant is even or behind on the score cards at the time of stoppage, the
    decision is a Technical Draw.
    Weight Classes
    Weight Class Weight
    Atomweight up to and including 105 lbs.
    Straw Weight over 105 to 115 lbs.
    Flyweight over 115 to 125 lbs.
    Bantamweight over 125 to 135 lbs.
    Featherweight over 135 to 145 lbs.
    Lightweight over 145 to 155 lbs.
    Super Lightweight over 155 to 165 lbs.
    Welterweight over 165 to 170 lbs.
    Super Welterweight over 170 to 175 lbs.
    Middleweight over 175 to 185 lbs.
    Super Middleweight over 185 to 195 lbs.
    Light Heavyweight over 195 to 205 lbs.
    Cruiserweight over 205 to 225 lbs.
    Heavyweight over 225 to 265 lbs.
    Super Heavyweight over 265 lbs.
    a. Allowances within Division: there are no allowance restrictions if both combatants weigh-in
    within the same contracted division.
    b. Weight Miss Catch Weight: If a person misses the contracted weight and the two competitors are
    in different weight classes, the heavier opponent shall not exceed five (5) lbs. of the lower weighing
    c. Contracted Catch Weight(s): there is no weight spread allowance between contracted catch
    weight fighters, so long as both competitors are below the contracted weight. Commissions may deny
    Catch Weight fights if they see the weight differential as a large enough disparity to the safety of
    either of the fighters.