Created by: Pavel Touš
Approved by: CSMMA Referee Commission
The purpose is to provide a clear set of rules for professional MMA competitions. This framework of the Unified MMA Rules was proposed and approved by the Commission of Referees on July 30, 2018.
The term “mixed martial arts” means a combat contest involving the use of a combination of techniques from different martial arts disciplines, including all forms of grappling, kicks and punches, subject to the limitations set forth in these Unified Rules.
The referee shall have the final say in the match. All mixed martial arts matches and exhibitions of martial arts shall be conducted under the supervision and authority of the commissioner/officiating regulatory authority.
All competitors must fight in approved shorts, without shoes or any other type of foot padding. Shirts or long pants (including GI pants) are not permitted. Fighters must wear approved gloves (4-6 ounces) that allow for finger grip and have a free palm. Crotch protectors and teeth guards are also required and are checked by the referee before entering the cage/ring. In addition to which, competitors must provide approved leg and chest protectors (in the case of women).
5. ROUND LENGTH
A non-title match is 3 rounds of 5 minutes each. A title match is 5 rounds of five minutes each.
6. WEIGHT CLASSES
Unless otherwise specified by the commission/regulatory governing body, the following weight classes shall apply:
- Strawweight less than 115 lb (up to 52.2 kg)
- Flyweight 115 to 125 lb (up to 56.7 kg)
- Bantamweight 125 to 135 lb (up to 61.2 kg)
- Featherweight 135 to 145 lb (up to 65.8 kg)
- Lightweight 145 to 155 lb (up to 70.3 kg)
- Welterweight 155 to 170 lb (up to 77.1 kg)
- Middleweight 170 to 185 lb (up to 83.9 kg)
- Light-heavyweight 185 to 205 lb (up to 93 kg)
- Heavyweight 205 to 265 lb (up to 120.2 kg)
- Super Heavyweight over 265 lb (120.2 kg)
A tolerance of 0.5kg is allowed when weighing. For title matches the tolerance is 0!!! In addition, no tolerance is allowed for catchweight.
7. MEDICAL EXAMINATION BEFORE THE MATCH
1) Immediately prior to the match, each fighter shall be examined by a physician approved by the commission/regulating authority. The medical examination may include any examinations or tests deemed necessary by the commission to determine the physical condition of the fighter before the match.
2) If a fighter refuses to submit to a medical examination, they shall be suspended for an indefinite period of time during which an investigation will be conducted.
8. STOPPAGE OF THE BOUT
Only the referee and doctor are allowed in the ring during the entire duration of the bout. The referee has the sole right to decide or stop the match.
The following actions are considered fouls in mixed martial arts competition:
1) Butting with the head: 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.
2) Eye gouging of any kind: 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.
3) Biting or spitting at an opponent: 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.
4) Fish Hooking: 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 of your opponent and pulling your hands in opposing directions while holding onto the skin of your opponent.
5) Hair pulling: 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
6) Spiking the opponent to the canvas onto the head or neck (pile-driving): A pile driver is considered to be any throw where you control your opponent’s body placing his feet towards the sky with his head straight down and then forcibly drive your 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 canvas.
7) Strikes to the spine or the back of the head. The spine includes the tailbone. The back of the head is defined as the area starting at the crown of the head and running directly down the centerline of the head with a one inch variance to each side. The entire rear portion of the neck is also illegal to attack starting at the occipital junction and stopping at the top of the trapezius. From the trapezius muscle down the spine is protected to the tailbone.
8) Throat strikes of any kind and/or grabbing the trachea: No directed throat strikes are allowed. A directed attack would include a fighter pulling his opponent’s 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 the stand up action of a fight a punch is thrown and the punch lands in the throat area of the fighter, this shall be viewed as a clean and legal blow.
9.)** Fingers outstretched toward an opponent’s face/eyes: 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.
10) Downward pointing elbow strike (12 to 6): 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.
11) Groin attacks of any kind: 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.
12) *Kneeing and/or Kicking the head of a grounded opponent: A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and soles of the feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. A single knee, arm, makes the fighter grounded without having to have any other body part in touch with the fighting area floor. At this time, kicks or knees to the head will not be allowed
13) *Stomping of a grounded fighter: 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. (Note) Axe kicks are not stomps. Standing foot stops are NOT a foul. As such, this foul does not include stomping the feet of a standing fighter.
*” A grounded fighter is defined as: Any part of the body, other than a single hand and soles of the feet touching the fighting area floor. To be grounded, both hands palm/fist down, and/or any other body part must be touching the fighting area floor. It needs to be clear to all fighters that once an opponent has become grounded, Stomps of any kind are not permitted, even to the feet.
14) Holding opponent’s gloves or shorts: 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
15) Holding or grabbing the fence or ropes with fingers or toes: A fighter may put their hands or feet on the fence and push off of it at any time. A fighter may place their hands or feet onto the cage and have their fingers or 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 shall issue a one-point deduction from the offending fighter’s scorecard if the foul caused a substantial effect in the fight. If a fighter grabs hold of the cage 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 after determining if a point deduction is appropriate
16) Small joint manipulation: Fighters must grab the majority of fingers or toes for use as defense or manipulation. Fingers and toes are small joints. Wrists, ankles, knees, shoulders and elbows are all large joints.
17) Throwing an opponent out of the ring or caged area: A fighter shall not throw their opponent out of the ring or cage.
18) Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of your opponent: 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
19) Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh: 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.
20) Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistently dropping the mouthpiece, or faking an injury: 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.
21) Use of abusive language in the fighting area: 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)
22) Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions: A fighter MUST follow the instructions of the referee at all times. Any deviation or non compliance may result in points being deducted from the fighter’s scorecard, or the fighter being disqualified from the match.
23) Unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to the opponent: 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.
24) Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.: 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
25) Attacking an opponent on or during the break: A fighter shall not engage their opponent in any fashion during a time-out or break of action in competition
26) Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.: 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.
27) Interference from a mixed martial artist’s corner or seconds: Interference is defined as any action or activity aimed at disrupting the fight or causing an unfair advantage to be given to one combatant. Corners are not allowed to distract the referee or influence the actions of the referee in any fashion.
10. FOUL ASSESSMENT
1) If the severity of an injury requires the match to be stopped immediately, the fighter who caused the injury is disqualified.
2) If, when an injury occurs, the referee decides to continue the match, he/she shall notify the authorities and automatically deduct two points from the fighter who caused the injury. The deduction of points for intentional fouls is mandatory.
3) If the match is stopped on the basis of an injury (see point 2) in subsequent rounds and the injured fighter wins on points, he wins by a TECHNICAL DECISION.
4) If the match is stopped on the basis of injury in the following rounds and the injured fighter loses on points or the score is tied, the match ends by a TECHNICAL DRAW.
5) If a fighter injures himself in an attempted intentional foul, the referee shall make no decision in his favour – the injury shall be treated the same as an injury caused by an attack under the rules.
1) Any injury requiring an immediate stoppage of the match before the end of the second of
three rounds or before the third of five rounds shall result in ANNULMENT.
2) Any injury requiring an immediate stoppage of the match after the completion of the second of three rounds or until the third of five rounds ends in a TECHNICAL DECISION in favour of the fighter who is ahead on points at the time of the stoppage.
3) In the event of an injury, an unfinished round will not be scored.
4) In the event of injury and points deducted by the referee, points will be deducted from the final score.
11. TYPES OF MATCH RESULTS
- 1) By tapping
- 2) Verbal
Technical Knockout (TKO):
1) After the referee stops the match
2) After the referee has stopped the match on the recommendation of the ring physician
Decision based on the score:
1) Unanimous decision – all three judges vote in favor of the same fighter.
2) Split decision – two judges vote in favor of one fighter and one for his opponent.
3) Majority decision – two judges vote in favor of one wrestler and one for a tie.
- a) Unanimous tie – all three judges vote for a tie.
- b) Majority tie – two judges vote for a tie.
- c) Split tie – each judge votes differently.
7) Technical tie
8) Technical decision
12. EVALUATION CRITERIA
Effective stand-up / ground fighting
“Allowed strikes that have an immediate or overall impact on the opponent with the potential to hasten the end the fight, with the IMMEDIATE impact having more weight than the total impact.
Successful takedowns, attempts to force an opponent to give up the match, reversals and gaining an advantageous position that have an immediate or overall impact on the opponent with the potential to hasten the end of the match, having an IMMEDIATE impact more than the total impact.”
It should be noted that a successful takedown is not just a change of position, but also the basis of an attack using thrust. Fighters in the top and bottom positions are judged more on the impressive/effective outcome of their actions, rather than by their own position. This criterion is often a key factor in deciding the scoring of a round. The other two criteria are fallbacks and are ONLY used if the round score for an effective fight in stance/on the ground is 100% even.
“Aggressive attempts to end the match. Emphasis is placed on the word ‘effective’. Pursuit
of an opponent without an effective result or intervention should not be considered by the referees when judging.”
Effective aggression is only scored if both fighters are scored as effective stand-up / ground fighting 100% evenly.
Control of the fight in the wrestling area
“Control of the fight in the wrestling area is judged by who sets the pace in the match, the place and position.”
“Control of the fight in the fighting area” is only judged if the scores of both fighters are 100% equal for effective stand-up/ground fighting and for effective aggression. This criterion shall be judged only exceptionally.
A round with a score of 10-10
“A round of an MMA match ends with a 10-10 score if both opponents in that round for a certain period of time of the round are without either fighter having achieved a margin or advantage.”
A round of an MMA match should very rarely end in a 10-10 result, and the referee should not hide any inability to judge the difference in a given round in giving his scores.
The 10-10 score has merit in MMA fights, especially when the referee awards points for unfinished rounds. In some rounds, the result, the strikes, the effectiveness and the overall fight of both fighters are completely even after 5 minutes have elapsed. This situation can occur, but the probability is minimal. If the fight between the two fighters is clearly different in a round, the referee shall not award scores of 10-10. Again, we remind you that this score is not at all common.
A round with a score of 10-9
“A round of an MMA match ends with a score of 10-9 if one fighter wins the round by a close difference.”
During MMA fights, the verdict of the referee is most often a result of a 10-9 round. If during the round, the referee sees that the fighter is fighting better in the stand-up or uses effective ground fighting techniques, even if it’s just a single technique, they will award the winner 10 points and the losing fighter 9 points or less.
It is imperative that the referee be aware that the losing fighter is not automatically awarded a score of 9 points for that round. The referee must consider: did the fighter use offensive fighting techniques in that round? Did the losing fighter fight in a way that would allow him to win the fight or to survive his opponent’s attacks?
A result of 10-9 may indicate that the round was very narrowly decided, or that the fighter
dominated the round and/or interfered with the opponent only to a limited extent.
A round with a score of 10-8
“A round of an MMA match ends with a 10-8 score if one fighter wins the round by a large margin.”
The scoring of a 10-8 round is not often awarded by referees in MMA fights; for the development of this and fair evaluation of the fighters, it is essential that referees give a score of 10-8 and use it effectively. Earning a 10-8 score does not require a fighter to score above his opponent for the entire five minutes. The judge will award a 10-8 score if one of the fighters has recorded demonstrably dominant action. The judge will score the round 10-8 ALWAYS, if he finds that one of the fighters showed dominant actions during the round, his dominance lasted for a period of time, and they also also hit their opponent with effective positional or ground fighting techniques to weaken their fighting ability.
The referee must CONSIDER awarding a score of 10-8 if the fighter dominated the round without receiving a score for hitting the opponent. MMA is a sport based on offense. Points are not awarded for defensive maneuvers. Smart, tactical defensive maneuvers allow a fighter to stay in the fight and compete. Dominance in the round is demonstrated in a stand-up fight by the losing fighter constantly trying to defend himself without returning punches or reacting when the opportunity presents itself.
Dominance on the ground is manifested by the fighter taking the DOMINANT POSITION during the fight and using it in an attempt to force the opponent to give up the round or in an attempt to strike the opponent a final blow. If a fighter exerts minimal or no offense during a 5-minute round, the referee should automatically consider awarding the losing fighter only 8 points instead of 9.
The judge must CONSIDER whether he will not award a score of 10-8 if the fighter attacks his opponent significantly without developing a dominant action on his own: an effective stand-up or ground fight that results in a weakening of the fighter’s energy, confidence, fighting ability and courage. All of this is a direct consequence of negative hits. Moments when a fighter is hurt by strikes, loses control or fighting ability, can be critical in a match. If the referee determines that a fighter has been seriously injured, he should CONSIDER a score of 10-8.
The referee should judge whether a fighter significantly hits his opponent during the round without himself making a dominant action. A hit also includes visible marks such as swelling and lacerations.
Actions in which a fighter by fighting standing and/or on the ground weakens the energy, confidence, fighting ability or courage of his opponent are also judged as a hit. All of this is a direct result of the hit. Hitting a fighter with punches that lead to loss of control and/or fighting ability can result in decisive moments in a round, which must be scored with a large number of points.
Since MMA is an attack-based sport, dominance in a round is shown during fighting in a position so that the losing fighter is constantly forced to defend himself without returning punches or react when the opportunity presents itself. Dominance on the ground is manifested by the fighter’s fighting, using this in an attempt to force the opponent to give up the round, or in an attempt to land a final blow. The fact that a fighter maintains a dominant position or positions for only a short time should not play a major role in judging dominance. What must be judged is how these positions are handled by the fighter.
Duration is defined by the time it takes for one of the fighters to effectively attack, control and strike his opponent while the opponent exerts little or no attack. The referee will judge duration by the recorded relative time the fighter has taken and maintained full control of the effective attack. This may be judged both standing and on the ground.
A round with a score of 10-7
“A round of an MMA match ends with a score of 10-7 if the fighter effectively fights standing and/or on the ground and has completely overpowered his opponent and the round has to be stopped.”
In MMA fights, the referee will only award a score of 10-7 on rare occasions. In that case, sheer DOMINANCE and also significant HITS will cause the referee to consider stopping the round.
The referee must note several EFFECTIVE punches or kicks that weaken the fighter, and/or
maneuvers on the ground by which the fighter establishes a dominant position from which to strike the opponent, thereby visibly weakening the opponent’s fighting ability.
A protest against a result can only be made through an official CSMMA document. The document is available from the supervisor. A protest must be filed within 48 hours of the fight and be accompanied by payment of the hearing fee.
Protest Resolution: In the event of a protest, the commission will only change the result if:
- 1) The commission determines that collusion affecting the outcome of the bout occurred.
- 2) The commission discovers an error in the recording of the scorecards.
- 3) The referee has made an incorrect decision due to an error in interpreting the result.
- 4) The ring judge admits his own error in hearing the protest
14. REFEREE REPLAY
This may only be used by the ring referee in case of doubt about the end of the match. The referee may decide at his discretion to review the replay and determine whether the end of the match was a foul or a legal strike. The referee may use this information to decide the outcome – a winner, whether the bout is a TKO, submission, no decision or disqualification. Instant replay will not be used to check the referee’s actions. Once instant replay is used, the fight is over. Regardless of the outcome of the review, the fight cannot be restarted.