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Details On Changes To The Unified Rules Of MMA

The Association of Boxing Commissions has ratified changes to the Unified Mixed Martial Arts rules. These changes include recommended rules and weight classes. Remember, these rules are recommendations only. It is up to individual state commissions to decide whether to adopt the new rules and weight classes.

Below are the new recommended weight classes for both men and women:


Flyweight (Up to 105 pounds)

Super Flyweight (Over 105.1 to 115 lbs)

Bantamweight (Over 115.1 to 125 lbs)

Super Bantamweight (Over 125.1 to 135

Featherweight (Over 135.1 to 145 lbs)

Lightweight (Over 145.1 to 155 lbs)

Super Lightweight (Over 155.1 to 165

Welterweight (Over 165.1 to 175 lbs)

Super Welterweight (Over 175.1 to 185 lbs)

Middleweight (Over 185.1 to 195 lbs)

Super Middleweight (Over 195.1 to 205 lbs)

Light Heavyweight (Over 205.1 to 225

Heavyweight (Over 225.1 to 265 lbs)

Super Heavyweight (Over 265.1 pounds)


Flyweight (95 lbs. and below)

Bantamweight (95.1-105 lbs.)

Featherweight (105.1-115 lbs.)

Lightweight (115.1-125 lbs.)

Welterweight (125.1-135 lbs.)

Middleweight (135.1-145 lbs.)

Light Heavyweight (145.1-155 lbs.)

Cruiserweight (155.1-165 lbs.)

Heavyweight (165.1-185 lbs.)

Super Heavyweight (185.1 and above)

Below are changes to the unified rules:

What was removed?

Striking downward using the point of the elbow.

For historical significance, this rule was based on a technique (a downward elbow strike) that was targeted to the back of an opponent’s head. Instead of identifying that the actual target location (back of the head) was at issue and a cause for concern, the consensus was to prohibit the technique itself.
However, there is already a rule prohibiting strikes to the spine and the back of the head, which is significant in that it prohibits ALL strikes to spine and the back of the head, bringing clarity to this issue, in a single rule.
Downward elbow strikes are no more or less damaging than any other elbow strike,(and elbow strikes are considered legal techniques). This rule has been confusing to officials, fighters, and Commissions.

Grabbing the clavicle

Grabbing the clavicle does little in terms of a direct attack that is likely to produce any injury, specifically a clavicle fracture. Clavicle fractures generally occur from a bad fall or a strong direct blow. Since throws and takedowns are allowed in MMA, as are strikes all of which have a greater probability of creating a collar injury, then this foul serves as being pointless and a bit of overkill.

Kicking to the kidney with the heel.

This attack (at one time common while one fighter has another fighter in the Guard), is considered weak and unlikely to produce much damage. Considering kicks and punches and knees, can produce substantially greater trauma (and they are legal techniques) it serves as being pointless as to having this foul in here.

Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck

There is a rule that more definitively describes pile driving as being a prohibited technique. Spiking is an ambiguous term and in terms of the mechanics of throwing or takedowns, many throws (Seoinage – a legal shoulder throw – as an example) do involve the head being placed in what might meet the description as a spike – the head progressing at a downward angle toward the ground. Fighters have been taught that the one throw that is considered illegal is the piledriver, so the rule should accordingly be changed to no piledriving an opponent onto their head.

Spitting at an opponent.

Consolidated with: “Engaging in any unsportsmanlike conduct. “

Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area.

Consolidated with:“Engaging in any unsportsmanlike conduct. “

Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat

Consolidated with:“Attacking an opponent on or during the break.”

Throwing in the towel during competition.

A fighter’s corner should have the option to retire his fighter in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, during competition. The general working guideline which involves having the corner try to get the attention of the referee, the inspector, or the Commission does not work while a fighter (in their corners perception) is taking what they consider too much damage. This is too long of a process considering the speed of MMA. A cornerman having worked alongside a fighter should recognize what their fighters capabilities are from past experience. It makes sense from a safety perspective to allow a corner to retire the fighter. If there is consideration that debris in the form of a towel entering the ring or cage may contribute to a disruption or confusion in the contest, then color towels or special towels might be a consideration to be used.

What was added?

Smothering (hand cupped over opponents mouth)

A fighter may not place his hand over his opponent’s mouth or nose in an attempt to smother the fighter’s ability to breathe. This does not include choke attempts where a fighter’s mouth is covered by his opponents arm.
This should be put in place due to the fact that fighters many times place their fingers in their opponent’s eyes while attempting this technique. It is often frowned on by fans because the appearance tends to lead fans to the conclusion that the fighter can figure out no true technique to use in attacking their opponent. Visually it looks awkward when one fighter is attempting to cover the mouth of his opponent while they turn their head from side to side in an attempt to block the move.