Rules & Regulation

Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts

In April 2000, the California State Athletic Commission, voted unanimously in favor of regulations that later became the foundation for the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. However when the legislation was sent to California's capital for review, it was determined that the sport fell outside the jurisdiction of the CSAC, rendering the vote superfluous.

In September 2000, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board began to allow mixed martial arts promoters to conduct events in New Jersey. The intent was to allow the NJSACB to observe actual events and gather information to establish a comprehensive set of rules to effectively regulate the sport.

On April 3, 2001, the NJSACB held a meeting to discuss the regulation of mixed martial arts events. This meeting attempted to unify the myriad of rules and regulations which have been utilized by the different mixed martial arts organizations. At this meeting, the proposed uniform rules were agreed upon by the NJSACB, several other regulatory bodies, numerous promoters of mixed martial arts events and other interested parties in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, all parties in attendance were able to agree upon a uniform set of rules to govern the sport of mixed martial arts.

The rules adopted by the NJSACB have become the de facto standard set of rules for professional mixed martial arts across North America. All state, provincial, & municipal athletic commissions that regulate mixed martial arts have assimilated these rules into their existing unarmed combat competition rules and statutes. For a promotion to hold mixed martial arts events in a sanctioned venue, the promotion must abide by the commission's body of rules.

On July 30, 2009, a motion was made at the annual meeting of the Association of Boxing Commissions to adopt these rules as the "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts". The motion passed unanimously.


Every round is 5 minutes in duration with a one minute rest period in-between rounds. Non-title matches must not exceed three rounds (The governing commission can grant dispensation for non-title five round bouts). Title matches can be sanctioned for five rounds.


All competitors must fight in approved shorts, without shoes or any other sort of foot padding. Shirts, gis or long pants (including gi pants) are not allowed. Fighters must use approved light gloves (4-6 ounces) that allow fingers to grab. A mouthguard and protective cup are also required and is checked by a State Athletic Committee official before being allowed to enter the cage/ring.

Judging Criteria

The ten-point must system is in effect for all fights. Three judges score each round and the winner of each receives ten points, the loser nine points or less. If the round is even, both fighters receive ten points. In New Jersey, the fewest points a fighter can receive is 7.


As set out by the Association of Boxing Commissions:

  • Holding or grabbing the fence
  • Holding opponent’s shorts or gloves
  • Butting with the head
  • Eye gouging of any kind
  • Biting or spitting at an opponent
  • Hair pulling
  • Fish hooking
  • Groin attacks of any kind
  • Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of your opponent
  • Downward pointing of elbow strikes (see Elbow strike)
  • Small joint manipulation
  • Strikes to the spine or back of the head (see Rabbit punch)
  • Heel kicks to the kidney
  • Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
  • Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle
  • Kicking the head of a grounded opponent
  • Kneeing the Head of a grounded opponent
  • Stomping of a grounded fighter
  • The use of abusive language in fighting area
  • Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent
  • Attacking an opponent on or during the break
  • Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
  • Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury)
  • Interference from a mixed martial artist's seconds
  • Throwing an opponent out of the ring or caged area
  • Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions
  • Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck (see Piledriver)
  • Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat

When a foul is charged, the referee in their discretion may deduct one or more points as a penalty. If a foul incapacitates a fighter, then the match may end in a disqualification if the foul was intentional, or a no contest if unintentional. If a foul causes a fighter to be unable to continue later in the bout, it ends with a technical decision win to the injured fighter if the injured fighter is ahead on points, otherwise it is a technical draw.

Medical Requirements

  • Contestants shall complete all pre-licensure medical examinations and tests required by the jurisdiction licensing the contest.
  • The jurisdiction licensing the contest shall conduct or supervise all pre-contest weigh-ins and may hold or supervise a rules meeting for all contestants and their cornermen.
  • Post-Contest medical examination.
    • Immediately following a contest, each contestant shall be given a medical examination by a physician appointed by the commission. The medical examination may include any examinations or tests the commission deems necessary to determine the post-contest physical fitness of a contestant.
    • Any contestant who refuses to submit to a post-contest medical examination shall be immediately suspended for an indefinite period.

Prohibited Substances

  • Use of Prohibited Substances
    • The use of any illegal drug, narcotic, stimulant, depressant, or analgesic of any description, or alcohol substance, by a contestant either before or during a match, shall result in the immediate disqualification of the contestant from the match and disciplinary action in accordance with the commission licensing the contest.
  • Detection of Prohibited Substances
    • In order to detect the presence of any prohibited substance, a contestant shall submit to any pre-contest or post-contest urinalysis or other laboratory procedure that is ordered by the physician appointed by the commission. Refusal to submit to such testing shall result in the immediate disqualification of the contestant from the match and an indefinite suspension from the sport of mixed martial arts.
  • Urinalysis:
    • All contestants may be ordered to complete a pre-contest urinalysis exam to detect the presence of any drug.
    • In addition to a pre-contest analysis, the local commission may, at its discretion, decide to test for the presence of performance enhancing drugs and thereby require additional urine specimens to be produced at any time after the completion of the contest.
    • Collection of specimens for urinalysis testing shall be conducted or supervised by a commission official. Refusal to submit to such testing shall result in the immediate disqualification of the contestant from the match and an indefinite suspension from the sport of mixed martial arts.

Source: Mixed Martial Arts Rules from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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