About the UFC

History of the UFC
- Early Competition
- Emergence of Stricter Rules
- Controversy and Reform
- Zuffa Purchase
- Struggle for Survival and a turaround
- The Ultimate Fight and mainstream emergence
- Surging popularity and growth
- Pride aquisition and beyond
- WEC merger
- Strikefore purchase
- Fox partnership
- Rounds
- Weight divisions
- Cage
- Attire
- Match Outcome
- Fouls
- Match Conduct
- Evolution of the Rules
- The Ultimate Fighter
Notable Fighters
- Current Champions
- UFC Hall of Fame Inductees
- Acomplished Fighters

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in the United States that hosts numerous events worldwide. It is the most successful MMA promotion in the world with many of the sport's top fighters under contract. The UFC has five weight-divisions and enforces the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Dana White serves as the president of the UFC; Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta control its parent company, Zuffa, LLC.

Inspired by vale tudo tournaments in Brazil, the UFC and the sport of MMA have roots in the ancient Olympic combat sport of Pankration in 648 B.C. The UFC held its first competition in Denver, Colorado in 1993. Showcasing fighters of different disciplines—including boxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, Muay Thai and other styles—the UFC sought to identify the most effective martial art in a real fight. After a period of political backlash, the UFC gradually underwent reform by embracing stricter rules and achieving sanctioning with State Athletic Commissions.

With a cable-television deal and expansion into Canada, Europe, Australia the Middle East and new markets within the United States, the UFC as of 2010 has gained in popularity, along with greater mainstream-media coverage. As of 2010 viewers can access UFC programming on pay-per-view television, in the U.S. on Spike and Versus, in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ESPN, as well as in over 130 countries and 20 different languages worldwide.

History of the UFC

Early competition

Businessman Art Davie met Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Rorion Gracie in 1991, while researching martial arts for a marketing client. Gracie operated a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school in Torrance, California and the Gracie family had a long history of vale tudo matches - a precursor of modern mixed martial arts - in Brazil. Davie became Gracie's student.

In 1992, inspired by the Gracies in Action video-series produced by the Gracies and featuring Gracie jiu-jitsu defeating various martial-arts masters, Davie proposed to Rorion Gracie and John Milius an eight-man, single-tournament with a title of War of the Worlds. The tournament would feature martial artists from different disciplines facing each other in no-holds-barred combat to determine the best martial art. it would aim to replicate the excitement of the matches Davie had seen on the videos. Milius, a noted film director and screenwriter, as well as a Gracie student, agreed to be the event's creative director. Davie drafted the business plan and twenty-eight investors contributed the initial capital to start WOW Promotions with the intent to develop the tournament into a television franchise.

In 1993 WOW Promotions sought a television partner and approached pay-per-view producers TVKO (HBO), SET (Showtime) and the Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). Both TVKO and SET declined, but SEG – a pioneer in pay-per-view television which had produced such off-beat events as a mixed-gender tennis match between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova – became WOW's partner in May 1993. SEG contacted video and film art-director Jason Cusson to design the trademarked "Octagon", a signature piece for the event. Cusson remained the Production Designer through UFC 27. SEG devised the name for the show as The Ultimate Fighting Championship.

WOW Promotions and SEG produced the first event, later called UFC 1, at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12, 1993. Art Davie functioned as the show's booker and matchmaker. The television broadcast featured kickboxers Patrick Smith and Kevin Rosier, savate fighter Gerard Gordeau, karate expert Zane Frazier, shootfighter Ken Shamrock, sumo wrestler Teila Tuli, boxer Art Jimmerson and 175 lb. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Royce Gracie—younger brother of UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie who was hand-picked by Rorion himself to represent his family in the competition. The show became an instant success, drawing 86,592 television subscribers on pay-per-view.

The show proposed to find an answer for sports fans to questions such as: "Can a wrestler beat a boxer?" As with most martial arts at the time, fighters typically had skills in just one discipline and had little experience against opponents with different skills. Royce Gracie's submission skills proved the most effective in the inaugural tournament, earning him the first ever UFC tournament championship.

However, the promoters did not intend for the event to become a precursor to a series. "That show was only supposed to be a one-off," eventual UFC President Dana White said. "It did so well on pay-per-view they decided to do another, and another. Never in a million years did these guys think they were creating a sport."

With no weight classes, fighters often faced significantly larger or taller opponents. For example, Keith "The Giant Killer" Hackney faced Emmanuel Yarborough at UFC 3 with a 9 in (23 cm) height and 400 pounds (180 kg) weight disadvantage. Many martial artists believed that technique could overcome these size disadvantages, and that a skilled fighter could use an opponent's size and strength against him. With the 175 lb (79 kg) Royce Gracie winning three of the first four events, the UFC quickly proved that size does not always determine the outcome of the fight.

During this early part of the organization, the UFC would showcase a bevy of different styles and fighters. Aside from the aforementioned Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Patrick Smith, the competitions also featured competitors such as Kimo Leopoldo, Hall-of-Famer Dan Severn, Marco Ruas, Oleg Taktarov, Tank Abbott, Don Frye and Gary Goodridge.

In April 1995, following UFC 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Davie and Gracie sold their interest in the franchise to SEG and disbanded WOW Promotions. Davie continued with SEG as the show's booker and matchmaker, as well as the commissioner of Ultimate Fighting, until December 1997.

Emergence of stricter rules

Although UFC used the "There are no rules!" tagline in the early 1990s, the UFC did in fact operate with limited rules. There was no biting, no eye gouging, and the system frowned on (but allowed) techniques such as hair pulling, headbutting, groin strikes and fish-hooking.

In fact, in a UFC 4 qualifying match, competitors Jason Fairn and Guy Mezger agreed not to pull hair—as they both wore pony tails tied back for the match. Additionally, that same event saw a matchup between Keith Hackney and Joe Son in which Hackney unleashed a series of groin shots against Son while on the ground.

The UFC had a reputation, especially in the early days, as an extremely violent event, as evidenced by a disclaimer[citation needed] in the beginning of the UFC 5 broadcast which warned audiences of the violent nature of the sport.

UFC 5 also introduced the first singles match, called "The Superfight." This was an important development because singles matches would feature fighters who suffered no prior damage from a previous fight in the same event, unlike tournament matches. Singles matches would also become a staple in the UFC for years to come.

"The Superfight" began as a non-tournament match that would determine the first reigning UFC Champion for tournament winners to fac it later evolved into a match that could feature either title matches or non-title matches. The "Superfight" would eventually completely phase out tournament matches; by UFC Brazil, the UFC abandoned the tournament format for an entire card of singles matches (aside from a one time UFC Japan tournament featuring Japanese fighters). UFC 6 was the first event to feature the crowning of the first non-tournament UFC Champion, Ken Shamrock.

Controversy and reform

The violent nature of the burgeoning sport quickly drew the attention of the U.S. authorities.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw a tape of the first UFC events and immediately found it abhorrent. McCain himself led a campaign to ban UFC, calling it "human cockfighting," and sending letters to the governors of all fifty U.S. states asking them to ban the event.

As a result, the UFC was dropped from the major cable pay-per-view distributor Viewer's Choice, and from individual cable carriers such as TCI Cable.

Thirty-six states enacted laws that banned "no-holds-barred" fighting, including New York, which enacted the ban on the eve of UFC 12, forcing a relocation of the event to Dothan, Alabama. The UFC continued to air on DirecTV PPV, though its audience remained minuscule compared to the larger cable pay-per-view platforms of the era.

In response to the criticism, the UFC increased its cooperation with state athletic commissions and redesigned its rules to remove the less palatable elements of fights—while retaining the core elements of striking and grappling. UFC 12 saw the introduction of weight-classes. From UFC 14 gloves became mandatory and kicks to the head of a downed opponent, hair pulling, fish-hooking, headbutting, and groin strikes were banned. UFC 15 saw more limitations on permissible striking areas: strikes to the back of the neck and head, and small joint manipulations were banned. With five-minute rounds introduced at UFC 21, the UFC gradually re-branded itself as a sport, rather than a spectacle.

As the UFC continued to work with state athletic commissions, events took place in smaller U.S. markets, including Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming and Alabama. SEG could not secure home-video releases for UFC 23 through UFC 29. With other mixed martial arts promotions working towards U.S. sanctioning, the International Fighting Championships secured the first U.S. sanctioned mixed-martial-arts event, which occurred in New Jersey on September 30, 2000. Just two months later, the UFC held its first sanctioned event, UFC 28, under the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's "Unified Rules".

McCain's opinion of the sport has changed since reform. He stated, "The sport has grown up. The rules have been adopted to give its athletes better protections and to ensure fairer competition."

As the UFC's rules started to evolve, so too did its field of competitors. Notable UFC fighters to emerge in this era include Mark Coleman, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, Mikey Burnett, Pat Miletich, Chuck Liddell, Pedro Rizzo, Jeremy Horn, Pete Williams, Jens Pulver, Evan Tanner, Matt Hughes and Andrei Arlovski, among others.

Zuffa Purchase

After the long battle to secure sanctioning, SEG stood on the brink of bankruptcy when Station Casinos executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, and aerobics instructor Dana White approached them in 2001, with an offer to purchase the UFC. A month later, in January 2001, the Fertittas bought the UFC for $2 million and created Zuffa, LLC as the parent entity controlling the UFC.

With ties to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (Lorenzo Fertitta was a former member of the NSAC), Zuffa secured sanctioning in Nevada in 2001. Shortly thereafter, the UFC returned to pay-per-view cable television with UFC 33: Victory in Vegas featuring three championship bouts.

Struggle for survival and turnaround

The UFC slowly, but steadily, rose in popularity after the Zuffa purchase, due partly to greater advertising, corporate sponsorship, the return to cable pay-per-view and subsequent home video and DVD releases.

With larger live gates at casino venues like the Trump Taj Mahal and the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and pay-per-view buys beginning to return to levels enjoyed by the UFC prior to the political backlash in 1997, the UFC secured its first television deal with Fox Sports Net. The Best Damn Sports Show Period aired the first mixed martial arts match on American cable television in June 2002, as well as the main event showcasing Chuck Liddell vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 37.5. Later, FSN would air highlight shows from the UFC, featuring one hour blocks of the UFC's greatest bouts.

UFC 40 proved to be the most critical event to date in the Zuffa era. The event sold out the MGM Grand Arena and sold 150,000 pay per view buys, a rate over three times larger than the previous Zuffa events. The event featured a card headlined by a highly anticipated championship grudge match between current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz and former UFC champion Ken Shamrock, who had previously defected to professional wrestling in the WWF before returning to MMA. It was the first time the UFC hit such a high mark since being forced "underground" in 1997. UFC 40 also garnered mainstream attention from massive media outlets such as ESPN and USA Today, something that was unfathomable for mixed martial arts at that point in time. Many have suggested that the success of UFC 40 and the anticipation for Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz saved the UFC from bankruptcy; the buyrates of the previous Zuffa shows averaged a mere 45,000 buys per event and the company was suffering deep monetary losses. The success of UFC 40 provided a glimmer of hope for the UFC and kept alive the hope that mixed martial arts could become big.

Despite the success of UFC 40, the UFC was still experiencing financial deficits. By 2004, Zuffa had $34 million of losses since they purchased the UFC.[38] Fighters who came into prominence after Zuffa's takeover include B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Ricco Rodriguez, Robbie Lawler, Frank Mir, Rich Franklin, Karo Parisyan, Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.

The Ultimate Fighter and mainstream emergence

Faced with the prospect of folding, the UFC stepped outside the bounds of pay-per-view and made a foray into television. After being featured in a reality television series, American Casino, and seeing how well the series worked as a promotion vehicle, the Fertitta brothers developed the idea of the UFC having its own reality series.

Their idea, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) – a reality television show featuring up-and-coming MMA fighters in competition for a six-figure UFC contract, with fighters eliminated from competition via exhibition mixed martial arts matches – was pitched to several networks, each one rejecting the idea outright. Not until they approached Spike TV, with an offer to pay the $10 million production costs themselves, did they find an outlet.

In January 2005, Spike TV launched TUF in the timeslot following WWE Raw. The show became an instant success, culminating with a notable season finale brawl featuring finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar going toe-to-toe for the right to earn the six-figure contract, an event that Dana White credits for saving the UFC.

On the heels of the Griffin/Bonnar finale, a second season of The Ultimate Fighter launched in August 2005, and two more seasons appeared in 2006. Spike and the UFC continue to create and air new seasons.

Following the success of The Ultimate Fighter, Spike also picked up UFC Unleashed, an hour-long weekly show featuring select fights from previous events. Spike also signed on to broadcast live UFC Fight Night, a series of fight events debuting in August 2005; Countdown specials to promote upcoming UFC pay-per-view cards, and several other series and specials featuring and promoting the UFC and its fighters.

Surging popularity and growth

With increased visibility, the UFC's pay-per-view buy numbers exploded. UFC 52, the first event after the first season of The Ultimate Fighter which featured eventual-UFC Hall of Famer Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell avenging his defeat to fellow future Hall of Famer Randy Couture, drew a pay-per-view audience of 300,000,[42] doubling its previous benchmark of 150,000 set at UFC 40. Following the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC's much-hyped rubber match between Liddell and Couture drew an estimated 410,000 pay-per-view buys at UFC 57.

For the rest of 2006, pay-per-view buy rates continued to skyrocket, with 620,000 buys for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie—featuring Royce Gracie's first UFC fight in 11 years—and 775,000 buys for UFC 61 featuring the rematch between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter 3. The organization hit a milestone with UFC 66, pitting Ortiz against Liddell with over 1 million buys.

The surge in popularity prompted the UFC to beef up its executive team. In March 2006, the UFC announced that it had hired Marc Ratner, former Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Ratner, once an ally of Senator McCain's campaign against no holds barred fighting, became a catalyst for the emergence of sanctioned mixed martial arts in the United States. Ratner continues to educate numerous athletic commissions to help raise the UFC's media profile in an attempt to legalize mixed martial arts in jurisdictions inside and outside the United States that have yet to sanction the sport.

In December 2006, Zuffa acquired the northern California-based promotion World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in order to stop the International Fight League (IFL) from making a deal with Versus (TV channel). At the time, the UFC had an exclusive deal with Spike, so the purchase of the WEC allowed Zuffa to block the IFL from Versus without violating their contract. The WEC showcases lighter weight classes in MMA, whereas the UFC features heavier weight classes. Notable fighters included Urijah Faber, Miguel Angel Torres, Mike Thomas Brown, Brian Bowles and Jose Aldo.

The sport's popularity was also noticed by the sports betting community as BodogLife.com, an online gambling site, stated in July 2007 that in 2007 UFC would surpass boxing for the first time in terms of betting revenues. In fact, the UFC had already broken the pay-per-view industry's all-time records for a single year of business, generating over $222,766,000 in revenue in 2006, surpassing both WWE and boxing.

The UFC continued its rapid rise from near obscurity with Roger Huerta gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated and Chuck Liddell on the front of ESPN The Magazine in May 2007.

UFC programming is now shown in 130 countries worldwide, and the UFC plans to continue expanding internationally, running shows regularly in Canada and the U.K., with an office established in the U.K. aimed to expand the European audience. UFC has also held events in Germany, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, while Afghanistan, China, Mexico and the Philippines are candidates for future events.

Pride acquisition and beyond

On March 27, 2007, the UFC and their Japan-based rival the Pride Fighting Championships announced an agreement in which the majority owners of the UFC, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, would purchase the Pride brand.

The acquisition of Pride was perceived by UFC officials as a watershed moment for mixed martial arts. "This is really going to change the face of MMA," Lorenzo Fertitta declared. "Literally creating a sport that could be as big around the world as football. I liken it somewhat to when the NFC and AFC came together to create the NFL."

Initial intentions were for both organizations to be run separately but aligned together with plans to co-promote cards featuring the champions and top contenders from both organizations. However, Dana White felt that the Pride model wasn't sustainable and the organization would likely fold with many former Pride fighters such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva and others already being realigned under the UFC brand. On October 4, 2007, Pride Worldwide closed its Japanese office, laying off 20 people who were working there since the closing of its parent company Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE).

In 2008, the UFC announced two major exclusive sponsorship deals with Harley-Davidson and Anheuser-Busch InBev, making the brewer's Bud Light the official and exclusive beer sponsor of the UFC.

On June 18, 2008, Lorenzo Fertitta accommodated the UFC's growth by announcing his resignation from Station Casinos in order to devote his energies to the international business development of Zuffa, particularly the UFC. The move proved to be pivotal, as Fertitta helped strike TV deals in China, France, Mexico and Germany as well as open alternative revenue streams with a new UFC video game and UFC action figures, among other projects.
Anderson "The Spider" Silva emerged as one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history.

Popularity took another major surge in 2009 with UFC 100 and the 10 events preceding it including UFC 90, 91, 92, 94 and 98. UFC 100 was a massive success garnering 1.7 million buys under the drawing power of former NCAA wrestling champion and WWE star Brock Lesnar and his rematch with former Heavyweight champion Frank Mir, Canadian superstar Georges St-Pierre going head-to-head with Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Alves, and Pride legend Dan Henderson going against British middleweight Michael Bisping; rival coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: U.S.A. vs U.K..

Fighters exposed to the UFC audience—or who became prominent—in the post-Pride era include Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Quinton Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva, Josh Koscheck, Nate Marquardt, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Junior dos Santos, Dan Hardy, Clay Guida, Sam Stout and Frank Edgar, among others.

WEC merger

Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, purchased World Extreme Cagefighting in late 2006 and held the first WEC event under new ownership on January 20, 2007. Soon thereafter the WEC made its home on the Versus Network with its first event debuting on Versus in June 2007.

On October 28, 2010, Zuffa announced that its sister promotion, WEC would merge with the UFC. The WEC held its final card on December 16, 2010. As a result of the merger, the UFC absorbed WEC's bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight weight divisions and their respective fighters. The UFC also made the last WEC Featherweight and Bantamweight Champions, José Aldo and Dominick Cruz respectively, the inaugural UFC Champions of their new weight divisions.

Reed Harris, the man that started World Extreme Cagefighting with one of his coaches at SLO Kickboxing, Scott Adams, has remained with the promotion every step of the way, and has mixed emotions about his baby growing into a life of its own. “It’s kind of like when you’re kid goes off to college, at first you’re not happy, but after you think about it for a while, you’re really happy,” Harris told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview immediately following the announcement. “At the end of the day, I never imagined this thing would be where we’re at today. I’m extremely proud and happy that I was involved with something that will now be part of what may be, some day, the largest sports organization in the world.”

Strikeforce purchase

On March 12, 2011, UFC president Dana White revealed on AOL to Ariel Helwani that Zuffa had purchased rival MMA promotion Strikeforce. White explained that Strikeforce would operate as an independent promotion and that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker would continue to run day-to-day operations.

"As we continue to grow and expand into these other countries, we need more fights," White explained in his interview with Helwani. "Let's face the facts: Strikeforce is a brand fans have come to like."

Similar to the acquisition of Pride Fighting Championships, the Strikeforce purchase was significant in Zuffa acquiring more top-ranked fighters.Zuffa also acquired Strikeforce champions Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson, Ronaldo Souza, Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, as well as Strikeforce's female division including notables Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, Marloes Coenen and Gina Carano.

It was first reported that Strikeforce fighters would stay in the promotion until their contracts were due to expire. "Once their contracts are up, it's fair game between us and Scott Coker," White also stated in the interview with Helwani. However, Nick Diaz became the first Strikeforce champion to make the move to the UFC after he signed to fight Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight title at UFC 137. His new contract enables him to fight in both Strikeforce and UFC but he has vacated his Strikeforce Welterweight title.

The UFC is following the same footsteps the NFL and NBA made when they were working to become accepted by the mainstream. The NFL also dabbled in the absorption game when they consumed the AFL in 1970, while the NBA absorbed and dismantled the ABA in 1976. In climbing to these positions of mainstream acceptance, both leagues had faced competition and absorbed the opposition to the fullest extent of the word, ultimately securing themselves as the premier organizations.

Fox partnership

On August 18, 2011, The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Fox announced a seven-year broadcast deal through the Fox Sports subsidiary, effectively ending the UFC's Spike TV and Versus partnership. The deal includes four events on the main Fox network, 32 live Friday night fights per year on their cable network FX, 24 events following The Ultimate Fighter reality show and six separate Fight Night events.

The promotion's first broadcast television event - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos - broke form by showcasing only one fight to television viewers. In the main event, Junior dos Santos abruptly dethroned then-undefeated UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez by knock-out at 1:04 in the first round. The telecast peaked with 8.8 million viewers tuning into the fight with an average audience of 5.7 million, making it by far the most watched MMA event of all-time and the most watched combat sports event since 2003's HBO bout between Lennox Lewis and Vitaly Klitschko.

The Ultimate Fighter will change formats and now be live and air on Friday nights on FX, followed by a live fight card. Many of the preliminary fights before UFC pay-per-views and UFC Unleashed programming will be on Fuel TV. Additional programming begins in January, including live fights, pre- and post-shows, Countdown shows, UFC Unleashed, UFC Primetime, UFC Knockout series, Best of Pride and weigh-in specials.

One of the other programming opportunities that is already in motion is a weekly UFC magazine-style show. When asked about the potential for a weekly magazine-style series, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta responded, “Not only weekly, but, potentially, multiple times per week you’ll have a UFC magazine (show).”

The UFC will maintain production control of its product, including the use of its broadcast team of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. Fox Sports will produce the pre- and post-shows.


The current rules for the Ultimate Fighting Championship were originally established by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board. The "Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts" that New Jersey established has been adopted in other states that regulate mixed martial arts, including Nevada, Louisiana, and California. These rules are also used by many other promotions within the United States, becoming mandatory for those states that have adopted the rules, and so have become the standard de facto set of rules for professional mixed martial arts across the country.


The UFC matches are varied in length, depending if the match is for a championship title. Regardless if a championship is on the line or not, a round will last for five minutes. Non-Championship bouts are for three rounds; Championship bouts are for five rounds. There is a one-minute rest period between rounds.

Weight divisions

The UFC currently uses seven weight classes:

* Bantamweight 135 61.2
*Featherweight 145 65.8
* Lightweight: 146 to 155 lb (66 to 70 kg)
* Welterweight: 156 to 170 lb (71 to 77 kg)
* Middleweight: 171 to 185 lb (78 to 84 kg)
* Light Heavyweight: 186 to 205 lb (84 to 93 kg)
* Heavyweight: 206 to 265 lb (93 to 120 kg).

Non-title fights have a one pound leniency. In addition, there are four other weight classes specified in the Unified Rules which the UFC does not currently use:

* Flyweight: under 126 lb (57 kg)); expected to be added to UFC in 2012[
* Super Heavyweight: above 265 lb (120 kg).


The UFC stages bouts in an eight-sided enclosure officially named "The Octagon." Originally, SEG trademarked the concept as well as the term and prevented other mixed martial arts promotions from using the same type of cage, but in 2001 Zuffa gave permission for other promotions to use octagonal cages, reasoning that the young sport needed uniformity to continue to win official sanctioning. Today Zuffa reserves exclusive use of the name "The Octagon".

The UFC cage is an octagonal structure with walls of metal chain-link fence coated with black vinyl and a diameter of 32 ft (9.8 m), allowing 30 ft (9.1 m) of space from point to point. The fence is 5'6" to 5'8" high. The cage sits atop a platform, raising it 4 ft (1.2 m) from the ground. It has foam padding around the top of the fence and between each of the eight sections. It also has two entry-exit gates opposite each other. The mat, painted with sponsorship logos and art, is replaced for each event.


All competitors must fight in approved shorts, without shoes. Shirts, gis or long pants (including gi pants) are not allowed. Fighters must use approved light-weight open-fingered gloves, that include at least 1" of padding around the knuckles, (110 to 170 g / 4 to 6 ounces) that allow fingers to grab. These gloves enable fighters to punch with less risk of an injured or broken hand, while retaining the ability to grab and grapple.

Originally the attire for UFC was very open if controlled at all. Many fighters still chose to wear tight-fitting shorts or boxing-type trunks, while others wore long pants or singlets. Multi-time tournament champion Royce Gracie wore a jiujitsu gi in all his early appearances in UFC.

Match outcome

Matches usually end via:

  • Submission: a fighter clearly taps on the mat or his opponent or verbally submits.
  • Knockout:a fighter is put into a state of unconsciousness resulting from any legal strike.
  • Technical Knockout (TKO): If the referee decides a fighter cannot continue, the fight is ruled as a technical knockout. Technical knockouts can be classified into three categories:
    • referee stoppage (the referee ends the fight because one fighter is unable to intelligently defend himself)
    • doctor stoppage (a ring side doctor decides that it is unsafe for the fighter to continue the bout due to excessive bleeding or physical injuries)
    • corner stoppage (a fighter's own cornerman signals defeat for their own fighter)
  • Judges' Decision: Depending on scoring, a match may end as:
    • unanimous decision (all three judges score a win for fighter A)
    • majority decision (two judges score a win for fighter A, one judge scores a draw)
    • split decision (two judges score a win for fighter A, one judge scores a win for fighter B)
    • unanimous draw (all three judges score a draw)
    • majority draw (two judges score a draw, one judge scoring a win)
    • split draw (one judge scores a win for fighter A, one judge scores a win for fighter B, and one judge scores a draw)

Note: In the event of a draw, it is not necessary that the fighters' total points be equal (see, e.g., UFC 41 Penn vs. Uno, or UFC 43 Freeman vs. White). However, in a unanimous or split draw, each fighter does score an equal number of win judgments from the three judges (0 or 1, respectively).

A fight can also end in a technical decision, disqualification, forfeit, technical draw, or no contest. The latter two outcomes have no winners.
Judging criteria

The ten-point must system is in effect for all UFC fights; three judges score each round and the winner of each receives ten points, the loser nine points or fewer. If the round is even, both fighters receive ten points. In New Jersey, the fewest points a fighter can receive is 7, and in other states by custom no fighter receives fewer than 8.


The Nevada State Athletic Commission currently lists the following as fouls:

1. Butting with the head
2. Eye gouging of any kind
3. Biting
4. Hair pulling
5. Fish hooking
6. Groin attacks of any kind
7. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent. (see Gouging)
8. Small joint manipulation
9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head (see Rabbit punch)
10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow (see Elbow (strike))
11. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
12. Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh
13. Grabbing the clavicle
14. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent
15. Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent
16. Stomping a grounded opponent
17. Kicking to the kidney with the heel
18. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck. (see piledriver)
19. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area
20. Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent
21. Spitting at an opponent
22. Engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent
23. Holding the ropes or the fence
24. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area
25. Attacking an opponent on or during the break
26. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
27. Attacking an opponent after the bell (horn) has sounded the end of a round
28. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee
29. Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury
30. Interference by the corner
31. Throwing in the towel during competition

When a foul is charged, the referee in their discretion may deduct one or more points as a penalty. If a foul incapacitates a fighter, then the match may end in a disqualification if the foul was intentional, or a no contest if unintentional. If a foul causes a fighter to be unable to continue later in the bout, it ends with a technical decision win to the injured fighter if the injured fighter is ahead on points, otherwise it is a technical draw.

Match conduct

* After a verbal warning the referee can stop the fighters and stand them up if they reach a stalemate on the ground (where neither are in a dominant position or working towards one). This rule is codified in Nevada as the stand-up rule.
* If the referee pauses the match, it is resumed with the fighters in their prior positions.
* Grabbing the cage brings a verbal warning, followed by an attempt by the referee to release the grab by pulling on the grabbing hand. If that attempt fails or if the fighter continues to hold the cage, the referee may charge a foul.
* Early UFC events disregarded verbal sparring / "trash-talking" during matches. Under unified rules, antics are permitted before events to add to excitement and allow fighters to express themselves, but abusive language during combat is prohibited.

Evolution of the rules

UFC 1 – Although the advertising said there are no rules, there were in fact some rules: no biting, no eye-gouging, and no small joint manipulation. Fights ended only in the event of a knockout, a submission, usually signaled by tapping the hand three times on the mat or opponent, or by the corner throwing in the towel. Despite this, the first match in UFC 1 was won by referee stoppage, even though it was not officially recognized as such at the time.
UFC 2 – Time limits were dropped. Groin strikes were unbanned, though it was still illegal to attempt to grab the genitals. Modifications to the cage were added (higher fences and less floor padding.)
UFC 3 – The referee was officially given the authority to stop a fight in case of a fighter being unable to defend himself. A fighter could not kick if he was wearing shoes. This rule would be discarded in later competitions.
UFC 4 – After tournament alternate Steve Jennum won UFC 3 by winning only one bout, alternates (replacements) were required to win a pre-tournament bout to qualify for the role of an alternate.
UFC 5 – The organizers introduced a 30-minute time limit. UFC 5 also saw the first Superfight, a one-off bout between two competitors selected by the organizers with the winner being crowned 'Superfight champion' and having the duty of defending his title at the next UFC.
UFC 6 – The referee was given the authority to restart the fight. If two fighters were entangled in a position where there was a lack of action, the referee could stop the fight and restart the competitors on their feet, in their own corner. In UFC 6 they officially adopted the 5 minute extension to the 30 minute rule which had been used in UFC 5.
UFC 8 – Time limit changed to 10 minutes in the first two rounds of the tournament, 15 minutes in the tournament final and Superfight. Fights could now be decided by a judges decision if the fight reached the end of the time limit. The panel was made up of three judges who simply raised a card with the name of the fighter they considered to be the winner. In this fashion, a draw was not possible since the only two possible outcomes of a decision were 3 to 0 or 2 to 1 in favor of the winner.
UFC 9 – To appease local authorities, closed fisted strikes to the head were banned for this event only. The commentators were not aware of this last minute rule that was made to prevent the cancellation of the event due to local political pressures. Referee "Big John" McCarthy made repeated warnings to the fighters to "open the hand" when this rule was violated. However, not one fighter was reprimanded.
Ultimate Ultimate 1996 This event was the first to introduce the "no grabbing of the fence" rule.
UFC 12 – The main tournament split into a heavyweight and lightweight division; and the eight-man tournament ceased. Fighters now needed to win only two fights to win the competition. The Heavyweight Champion title (and title bouts) was introduced, replacing the Superfight title (albeit matches were still for a time branded as "Superfights").
UFC 14 – The wearing of padded gloves, weighing 110 to 170 g (4 to 6 ounces), becomes mandatory. Gloves were to be approved by the UFC.
UFC 15 – Limits on permissible striking areas were introduced. Headbutts, groin strikes, elbow strikes to the back of the neck and head, kicks to a downed opponent, small joint manipulation, pressure point strikes, and hair-pulling became illegal.
UFC 21 – Five minute rounds were introduced, with preliminary bouts consisting of two rounds, regular non-title bouts at three rounds, and title bouts at five rounds. The "ten point must system" was introduced for scoring fights (identical to the system widely used in boxing).
UFC 28 – The New Jersey Athletic Control Board sanctions its first UFC event, using the newly developed Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Major changes to the UFC's rules included barring knee strikes to the head of a downed opponent, elbow strikes to the spine and neck and punches to the back of the neck and head. Limits on permissible ring attire, stringent medical requirements, and regulatory oversight were also introduced. A new weight class system was also introduced. This new set of rules is currently the de facto standard for MMA events held in the USA and is still in use by the UFC.
UFC 31 Weight classes are re-aligned to the current standard. Bantamweight moves from 150 to 155 and becomes known as Lightweight. Lightweight becomes known as Welterweight, Middleweight becomes Light Heavyweight, and a new Middleweight class is introduced at 185.
UFC 43 – In the event of a stoppage fights restart in the position the fight was stopped.
UFC 94 – After an incident where Georges St-Pierre was accused of putting vaseline on his back, corner men were disallowed from bringing vaseline into the octagon, and vaseline must be applied outside the octagon before the first round.
UFC 133 - Speedo style trunks are banned.
UFC 138 - First 5 round non-title main event

The Ultimate Fighter

Fights that occur on The Ultimate Fighter are classified as exhibition matches under NSAC sanctioning, and thus do not count toward the professional record of a fighter. Match outcomes also do not need to be immediately posted publicly, which allows for fight results to be unveiled as the series progresses.

These exhibition matches variably have two or three rounds, depending on the rules used for each season. In most seasons, preliminary matches (before the semi-final bouts) were two rounds; in season two, all matches had three rounds. For two-round matches, if there is a draw after two rounds, an extra five-minute round ("sudden victory") is contested. If the extra round concludes without a stoppage, the judges' decision will be based on that final round. All matches past the first round use three rounds as per standard UFC bouts. During the finales for each series, the division finals have the standard three rounds, plus a fourth round if the judges score a tie.

Notable Fighters


Current Champions

Division Upper weight limit Champion Since Title Defenses
Heavyweight 265 lb (120 kg; 18.9 st) Junior dos Santos November 12, 2011 (UFC on Fox) 0
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st) Jon Jones March 19, 2011 (UFC 128) 1
Middleweight 185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st) Anderson Silva October 14, 2006 (UFC 64) 9
Welterweight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st) Georges St. Pierre April 19, 2008 (UFC 83) 6
Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Frank Edgar April 10, 2010 (UFC 112) 3
Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg; 10.4 st) José Aldo November 20, 2010 (UFC 123) 2
Bantamweight 135 lb (61.2 kg; 9.6 st) Dominick Cruz December 16, 2010 (WEC 53) 2


UFC Hall of Fame inductees

(In the order inducted)

Accomplished fighters

The following fighters have won a UFC tournament, championship title, or an Ultimate Fighter tournament. Some have won championships in different weight classes.


206 to 265 pounds (93 to 120 kg)

Light Heavyweights

186 to 205 pounds (84 to 93 kg)


171 to 185 pounds (78 to 84 kg)


156 to 170 pounds (71 to 77 kg)


146 to 155 pounds (66 to 70 kg)