So What's Allowed in MMA Anyway?

Once upon a time, mixed martial arts and the UFC almost meant anything-goes-no-holds-barred (but never entirely). This is far from the case now though and as a matter of fact, one could even say that modern fighting is downright civilized these days — you can’t even kick a guy when he’s down (which is a good thing, in case you’re confused).

Now, I touch on a few elements of the sport and its history in my profile of up-and-coming local computer-guy-turned-fighter Joe Lauzon, but if you’re looking for a quick-and-dirty crash course on what a guy can and can’t do in the cage, check out this Clifnotes edition below. One quick note: this is by far and away not exhaustive — so if you’re desperately looking for the finer details on judging, or need a few more of the can’s-and-can’ts, check out the full list here.

You May Not …

  • Fight dirty. That means no headbutts, eye gouging, stomping, spitting, biting, clawing, hooking the inside of the mouth, or hair pulling.
  • Spike your elbow vertically down onto your opponent.
  • Knee or kick to the head while your opponent is on the ground.
  • Dump your opponent onto the mat head or neck first.
  • Strike the groin, spine, throat, or back of the head.
  • Attack fingers or toes.
  • Shy away, run away, or otherwise actively avoid the fight.

However, You May by All Means …

  • Fight with kicks, knees,elbows, chokes, and various submission moves.
  • Attack with your elbows, so long as you’re not driving them straight down.
  • Knee and kick while your opponent is standing up.
  • Throw the other guy onto the floor of the cage, as long as he’s not going to land on his head or neck.
  • Attempt to bend joints in ways nature never intended them to move.

And if You’re Wondering What to Wear …

  • On the Hands: Soft gauze, medical tape, and a pair of gloves weighing no less than 4 ounces (but no more than 6, except for special cases). Tip: Don’t expect to wear your own gloves—the organizer will give you a pair.
  • In the Mouth: A doctor-approved mouth guard.
  • On the Body: Board shorts, biking shorts, or kickboxing shorts. If you want a fourth option, you’ll have to run it past the athletic commission overseeing the event. Guys: No shirts, and you’re going to want to wear a cup. Ladies, you’ve got to get a chest protector, and your shirts have to meet commission approval. Oh, and no shoes or jewelry.