What is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that uses different techniques from other combat sports, such as Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Kickboxing, Boxing and other martial arts, to compete against another opponent of equal weight.

The athletes usually fight in a ring or a fenced area. The fenced area can be round or have at least six sides, and the generic term used for the fenced area is called a Circle.

MMA allows opponents to strike and grapple, both standing and while on the ground. Techniques that are commonly used while standing are striking, clinching and takedowns. Grappling and submission holds are usually performed while on the ground.

Match Format

Matches are usually three rounds lasting five minutes each, with one minute of rest between rounds.

Championship Matches are usually five rounds lasting five minutes each, with one minute of rest between rounds.

For GAMMA-held events, athletes compete for three rounds lasting three minutes each, with one minute of rest between rounds.


How to Win

A match is normally won either by the judges’ decision after the allotted amount of time has elapsed, a stoppage by the referee (for example, if the athlete cannot defend him/herself intelligently) or the fight doctor (due to an injury), a submission, by an athlete’s cornerman throwing in the towel, or by knockout.

Knockout (KO)
As soon as an athlete is unable to continue due to legal strikes, their opponent is declared the winner. This is to prevent further injury to the athlete.

Submission
An athlete may admit defeat during a match by:

  • a physical tap on the opponent’s body or mat/floor
  • submitting verbally

Technical Submission
The referee stops the match when the athlete is caught in a submission hold and is in danger of being injured. This can occur when an athlete becomes unconscious while being choked or when a bone has been broken in a submission hold.

Technical Knockout (TKO):
The referee may stop a match in progress if:

  • the athlete becomes dominant to the point where the opponent cannot intelligently defend themselves and, as a result, is taking excessive damage
  • an athlete appears to be losing consciousness as he/she is being struck
  • an athlete appears to have a significant injury, such as a cut or a broken bone

Doctor Stoppage/Cut
The referee will call for a timeout if an athlete’s ability to continue is in question as a result of apparent injuries, such as a large cut. The ring doctor will inspect the athlete and stop the match if the athlete is deemed unable to continue safely, rendering the opponent the winner. However, if the match is stopped as a result of an injury from illegal actions by the opponent, either a disqualification or No Contest will be issued instead.

Corner Stoppage
The athlete’s corner may announce defeat on the athlete’s behalf by throwing in the towel during the match in progress or between rounds. This is normally done when the athlete is being beaten to the point where it is dangerous and unnecessary to continue. In some cases, the athlete may be injured.

Retirement
An athlete is so dazed or exhausted that he/she cannot physically continue. This usually occurs between rounds.

Decision
If the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by three judges. The judging criteria are organization-specific.

Forfeit
The athlete or their representative may forfeit a match prior to the beginning of the match, thereby losing the match.

Disqualification
A “warning” will be given when an athlete commits a foul, illegal action or does not follow the referee’s instruction. Three warnings will result in disqualification. Moreover, if an athlete is unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his/her opponent, the opponent will be disqualified.

No Contest
In the event that both athletes commit a violation of the rules, or an athlete is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the match will be declared a “No Contest”. A result can also be overturned to a No Contest if the athlete that was originally victorious fails a post-match drug test for banned substances.

Technical Decision
If an athlete is unable to continue due to an accidental illegal technique late in the match, a technical decision is rendered by the judges based on who is ahead on the judges’ scorecards at that time. In a three-round match, two rounds must be completed for a technical decision to be awarded, and in a five-round match, three rounds must be completed.

Weight Categories

In order to reduce the competitive advantage a much larger opponent will have on a smaller opponent because of their size, power, and weight, athletes are categorized into one of the nine different weight categories for men, and seven different weight categories for women. This helps to ensure that athletes are given a fair fight.

Men – Weight Divisions

  • Up to 115 lbs (52.2 kg)
  • 115 – 125 lbs (52.2 – 56.7 kg)
  • 125 – 135 lbs (56.7 – 61.2 kg)
  • 135 – 145 lbs (61.2 – 65.7 kg)
  • 145 – 155 lbs (65.7 – 70.3 kg)
  • 155 – 170 lbs (70.3 – 77.1 kg)
  • 170 – 185 lbs (77.1 – 83.9 kg)
  • 185 – 205 lbs (83.9 – 92.9 kg)
  • Above 205 lbs (Above 92.9 kg)

Women – Weight Divisions

  • Up to 105 lbs (48 kg)
  • 105 – 115 lbs (48 – 52.2 kg)
  • 115 – 125 lbs (52.2 – 56.7 kg)
  • 125 – 135 lbs (56.7 – 61.2 kg)
  • 135 – 145 lbs (61.2 – 65.7 kg)
  • 145 – 160 lbs (65.7 – 72.6 kg)
  • Above 160 lbs (72.6 kg)