MMA 101: There is no such thing as basic, this guide will tell you why and help you prepare for the journey ahead.
So you’re finally here and you need to know what we’re all about. The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Fight Sports community welcomes you with open arms but will most likely also put you in a sleeper hold. So tuck your chin and don’t be shy cause we are going to give you the explosive details about the styles, rules, dos and don’ts of MMA.
It is to be stated that though MMA aspires to be lawless violence it definitely has rules and regulations. It’s no “No Holds Barred” and everything does not go. There are rules for how to throw strikes, where they are allowed to land, when and how to attack a grounded opponent, what weight lets you fight who, when it’s safe to tap, timidity and more. All of these rules go into making the sport safe but even professional fights have protective gear and training usually involves lots of pad work. Furthermore there are unspoken rules of engagement in modern day MMA that are held true by the fighters but aren’t official regulation. Furthermore there isn’t any one kind of rule set, various promotions on different levels keep associated rules to best protect their fighters.
Rules: Association of Boxing Commissions
There are either 5 rounds or 3 rounds. Each round is 5 minutes. There’s also a one minute rest in between rounds. Simple, right? Main-cards are usually five rounds, and non-main-cards are usually three.
- Judging criteria
The ten point system is used for scoring fights. Matches are scored by three judges who attempt to score ten to whoever is winning the round with the loser being given less than the upper limit given to the winner. There are subtractions made for penalties and fouls which usually have deductions by 1 or two points depending on the severity. Points are awarded for Effective striking/grappling, Effective aggression, Fighting Area Control, Impact and Dominance, Duration.
At the end of the fight the judges have their cumulative scores announced as one of the following based on how they scored the fight..
Unanimous decision win: All three judges have the same fighter as the winner.
Majority decision win: Two judges have one fighter winning the fight and the third judge scores it a draw.
Split decision win: Two judges have one fighter winning the fight and the third judge has the other fighter winning it.
Unanimous draw: All three judges score it a draw.
Majority draw: Two judges score it a draw, and the third judge has a winner.
Split draw: One judge scores it a draw, and the other two judges have different winners.
- Weight-classes are pretty simple though some promotions have different variations of this system. If a fighter misses weight they may get penalized for it or even have their fight canceled if their opponent is unwilling to compete with them. It’s not always easy to make weight for fighters, with rigorous water weight reductions and sweating out every excess drop using sauna suits to meet the criteria depending on their weight-class often leaves the fighters hard pressed for words, energy or even sleep.
|Weight Class||Upper Weight Limit|
|Strawweight||115 Lb. (52.2 Kg)|
|Flyweight||125 Lb. (56.7 Kg)|
|Bantamweight||135 Lb. (61.2 Kg)|
|Featherweight||145 Lb. (65.8 Kg)|
|Lightweight||155 Lb. (70.3 Kg)|
|Super Lightweight||165 Lb. (74.8 Kg)|
|Welterweight||170 Lb. (77.1 Kg)|
|Super Welterweight||175 Lb. (79.4 Kg)|
|Middleweight||185 Lb. (83.9 Kg)|
|Super Middleweight||195 Lb. (88.5 Kg)|
|Light Heavyweight||205 Lb. (93.0 Kg)|
|Cruiserweight||225 Lb. (102.1 Kg)|
|Heavyweight||265 Lb. (120.2 Kg)|
|Super Heavyweight||No Limit|
There are a lot of ways to make a foul in fight sports and not all competitions follow the same rules, some allowing low blows (groin shots) and even kicking and knee-striking the head. However committing fouls can have consequences and penalties up to a complete disqualification. Potential fouls include:
- Grabbing the fence
- Holding opponent’s shorts or gloves
- Biting or spitting at an opponent
- Hair pulling
- Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of an opponent
- Eye gouging of any kind
- Groin attacks
- Downward pointing of elbow strikes (also called 12-6 elbow)
- Small joint manipulation
- Strikes to the spine or back of the head or anything behind the ears (also called Rabbit punch)
- Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
- Fingers outstretched towards opponent’s face/eyes
- Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh
- Kicking and knee-striking the head of a grounded opponent (also called Soccer kick)
- Stomping an opponent on the ground
- Swearing or offensive language in the cage (although nobody ever received deductions or disqualifications in fights)
- Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent
- Attacking an opponent during a break
- Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
- Timidity (excessively avoiding contact, consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury)
- Throwing opponent out of the ring/fighting area
- Interference from a mixed martial artist’s cornerman
- Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions
- Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck (also called Piledriver)
- Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat
- Medical requirements
The medical requirements include making sure contestants aren’t taking prohibited substances and are healthy. To make sure this is obeyed tests are taken before and after both weigh-ins and fights.
- 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.
There are also many styles each with their uses and downsides that one can utilize inside their arsenal. Mixed combinations develop new techniques and innovate the game into new territories where it is pushed along by the youth. These styles all have their uses depending on the range of combat or position. Depending on which style you train in or use professionally the equipment involved varies. Find all the equipment you will ever need on RDXSports
- Brazilian jiu-jitsu/Grappling
- Muay Thai/Kickboxing
- Luta Livre
- Wushu/Sanshou/Sanda/Kung Fu
And many more styles too and some that are yet to be explored fully but these ones have proven fighters who have shown not only exceptional skill with these forms but have also won mixed martial arts championships with some of these styles.
Based on your knowledge of these styles or forms you apply different tactics and strategies to deal with your opponent as every fighter brings a new challenge to the ring. Two clear dividing factors can be striking and grappling, but to be the best one must cross train and learn a variety to be able to deal with the challenge that presents itself. Make the best strategic choice with your martial arts journey and find the finest products on our website. The major strategies applied are:
This is classic stand up fighting. Experience in Boxing, Kickboxing, Karate and Muay Thai make the striking count, while some wrestling history to prevent takedowns is also applied for defense. Fighters with dangerous striking and knockout power will utilize this to dominate and apply continuous pressure to the opponent, while an understanding of wrestling will give a degree of safety.
This strategy is usually applied after a takedown and a dominant or controlling position is taken by your opponent. It is used to wear out, potentially knock out or damage an opponent with such ferocity that a submission becomes easy to apply and the adversary willing to tap out. Hence some degrees of Grappling skills are required to successfully carry out this strategy however equivalent talent in damaging strikes are also needed.
When a focus is given specifically towards both wrestling, grappling, jiu jitsu, sambo or other grappling styles and the goal of the fighter is to find a submission finish from any angle on any part of the fighters body this is applied.
Applied to make takedowns more efficiently and to make striking more accurate. The opponents arms or movements are controlled by maintaining close range and “clinch holds”, this allows you to take more dominant positions throughout the fight. Skills in Muay Thai and Luta Livre and wrestling or grappling mixtures make this strategy effective.
- Score oriented fighting
Fighters skilled in both wrestling and striking when against an opponent that has either a very dangerous ground game but an incomplete striking game apply this strategy. This allows them to control the ring while scoring points by striking accurate clear strikes and takedown defenses.
Watch and Learn
The MMA community is a big one with fights happening all over the world, who should you watch, at what weight and where can you learn more about the community for yourself. There are many promotions to choose from with big names like the UFC and ONE but almost all have entertainment, demographics and other niches worth exploring.
- Cage Warriors Fight Championship (CWFC)
- Road Fighting Championship (Road FC)
- Deep International
- Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW)
- World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA)
- Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA)
- M-1 Global
- Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC)
- Invicta Fight Championships (IFC)
- RIZIN Fighting Federation (Rizin FF)
- Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship
- ONE Championship
- AMC Fight Nights
- Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA)
- Bellator MMA
- Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
With a well rounded perspective now, you can understand why the MMA world is nowhere near basic, with as much depth as an artform as old as the human race itself. The MMA world strives to showcase the very best of the best in martial arts. We at RDX invite you wholly to the community and if you’re searching for starter gear, training gear or even if you’re skilled enough for professional gear find it on our website.