MMA Clothing and Competition Rules

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During the development of the modern incarnation of MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, rules were virtually nonexistent. As the sport has evolved, however, it has incorporated extensive rules and safety regulations regarding MMA clothing and techiques.


MMA clothing required for fighters includes preapproved competition shorts, no shirt, and no shoes. Shorts are not allowed to contain any hard plastic or metal components, such as rings, zippers or buckles. Competitors must wear protective mouth guards for the duration of the bout. The fighter’s gender also impacts required MMA clothing; male competitors must wear groin protectors, and female competitors must wear chest protectors.

Athletic Commission

All fighters must wear padded gloves that have been provided by the athletic commission. These gloves must weigh no less than four ounces, but no more than six ounces except in the case of 2XL or larger gloves, which may be slightly heavier than six ounces. Fighters may wear hand wraps made of soft gauze and protective tape under the gloves, but they must be inspected and approved by an athletic commission official before the gloves are put on.

Technical Knockout – TKO

An ordinary MMA fight lasts for three rounds of five minutes each, while a championship fight lasts for five rounds of five minutes each. The fighter’s goal during an MMA bout is to either knock out his opponent or to catch his opponent in a submission hold, such as a choke or a joint lock, from which they cannot escape. A fighter who is caught in a submission hold may end the bout by tapping three times to signal his surrender — this is the same as a knockout. The bout’s referee may stop the contest at any time if he feels that one fighter is no longer able to intelligently defend himself; this results in a victory by technical knockout, or TKO, for the other fighter.

Legal strikes

Fighters are permitted to strike with the hands, feet, shins, forearms, elbows and knees. Headbutting, biting, eye gouging, hair pulling and the like are not allowed. Illegal targets for strikes include the spine, the back of the head, the throat and the groin. Fighters also may not throw elbow strikes straight down with the point in a 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock direction, even to a legal target.
Knee strikes are permitted to the head of a standing opponent, but they are illegal to the head of a downed opponent. A downed opponent is defined as one who has at least three points of contact with the ground. For example, a fighter with one hand and both feet touching the ground, a fighter with one knee and both feet touching the ground, or a fighter lying on his chest or back are all defined as downed.

And the winner is…

If a bout reaches the end of the final round with both competitors still fighting, the winner will be chosen based on a judges’ decision. Each round is scored with ten points going to the round winner, and up to nine points going to the round loser. Eight or even seven points may be awarded to the round loser if that fighter was completely dominated during that round. The bout itself is awarded to the competitor with more total points from all three or all five rounds.


Written by James Steed, who recognises the importance of ensuring you have the correct mma clothing and equipment is essential if you want to compete at the highest levels of Mixed Martial Arts. He recommends Made4Fighters as a quality UK MMA supplier.

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2 thoughts on “MMA Clothing and Competition Rules”

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