View Full Version : UFC rules question

10/15/2005 2:59pm,
URL where I got the information. If it is wrong, please point me to the correct rules.

I have listened to arguments over and over about how MA X can't be used in MMA because it is too "dangerous". After seeing the argument a few hundred times, I came to the conclusion that the user of MA X is full of BS, and the MMA people have the upper hand on the argument. Watching UFC fights also made me believe the MMA people were also right.

I looked up the rules and found a couple suprising ones.

9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head.
10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow.

Rules 9 and 10 - I always wondered why no one ever did an elbow strike to the back of the head/neck of a fighter shooting in. Its what I would instinctively do myself, but never having the chance to spar an MMA person, I just assumed I was wrong and it wouldn't work otherwise everone would be doing it. Turns out, its against the rules. What I thought would be the #1 defense to the shoot is illegal. A knee to the face on the shoot is legal, but good MMA shooters come in so quick and to the side that it has been proven worthless most of the time.

My understanding was that the first UFC had far less rules then this. Also when there were less rules the BJJ fighters still dominated the strikers, which is a great argument that the rules are not what allows BJJ to dominate so well.

My question is, couldn't the "strikers" refine their techniques and train against grapplers to learn which techniques prevent them from being taken down to the ground? Is that what did happen, and force rules 9 and 10 to be put in? I know one good solid hit can win a fight, seen it many times in UFC. I would think the best time for a striker to do this is during a shoot, but apparently its outlawed.

With this set of rules, I couldn't make an argument about any style I know about being able to beat BJJ in the UFC. BJJ is a solid style, and many who practice it do so in a realistic manner, unlike almost any current TMA you can find. I always thought its only weakness was vulnerability during the shoot, which has developed guys who are so good at timing and so quick at it they have almost convinced me that it is not a weakness. But come on, the rules give them a pass at the best time to beat them.

Obviously standing up, the strikers have the advantage, not necessaraly win though. Once on the ground the BJJ guy IS going to win. The moment of truth is the shoot.

Before I get blasted by everyone with the same crap that has been posted here hundreds of times (I side with the MMA people on almost all of it). I'd like to discuss the specific example of striking the back of the shooting fighter as he shoots. That is the ONLY rule I see as really favoring the grappler. I'm sure the rule doesn't favor the grappler, I just want to be educated on how it doesn't.

10/15/2005 3:18pm,
Most (if not all of the rules) were established to prevent permenant injury or disability. An elbow to the spine or back of the head is a very dangerous move that can paralyze or kill (depending on where it hits). Now of course it isn't guarenteed to do so, but it could, so its illegal. Same methodology for outlawing groin strikes, hair pulling, eye gouging, and other "foul" tactics.

The early UFCs had few rules: no finger gouging, no groin striking... that's pretty much it, as I recall. I've seen the first 3 UFCs, and headbutting and hair grabbing did play a roll in a few fights (Royce vs Kimo #1, anyone?). Downward elbowing, spine strikes, and all that good stuff were perfectly legal as well. The grapplers still won (though admittedly that mostly just consisted of Royce, there was a Judo guy as I recall...and Ken Shamrock). In the time that the elbow strike to the spine was legal, I don't recall any grapplers getting beaten by it while shooting in. I could be wrong though.

Grapplers had the upper hand for a long time because strikers never trained to deal with it. As people wised up, the situation now is that people with grappling and striking experience will defeat someone with only grappling experience usually. The techniques don't change that much; just learn sprawling and use grappling for defense to continue striking and avoid submissions.

I'm guessing this topic has been brought up many times before, since it's pretty general, so I'll let the bullshido veterans "welcome you" officially.

10/15/2005 4:11pm,
Actually, the rules were enforced by state law. It had nothing to do with the UFC deciding to initiate rules that favor grappling, they simply had to add a bunch of rules to keep it legal.

10/15/2005 4:13pm,
"What?! No killing my opponent?! But...but...I only have t3h d34d!y....."

10/15/2005 4:18pm,
The UFC would have kept UFC1 rules if it weren't for John McCain.

Anyway, do they still enforce #10? Someone should tell that to Joe Stevenson.

10/15/2005 4:47pm,
i think they modified that one to get around it.
No striking DOWNWARD with elbows
from side control, thats not downward, its sideways ;)

10/15/2005 5:44pm,
“What I thought (elbow strike to the back of the head/neck) would be the #1 defense to the shoot is illegal.”

The #1 defense to a takedown is to sprawl and to try to get an underhook in, trying to stop a takedown with strikes alone, back of the head or otherwise is sure to get you taken down hard nine times out of ten. About the only time that you could reasonably expect to get off a hard enough strike to the back of the head would be after you successfully defended the shot and sprawled your hips back and ended up with your opponent turtled up underneath you. Because it isn’t legal you don’t see guys trying to hard to defend it after a failed shot. Maybe that’s why you sometimes hear delusional types with their “I would just paralyze them with my deadly elbow strikes.” nonsense. If it was legal you would see guys bailing out of there after a failed takedown attempt. When they first started allowing knees and kicks to the head of downed fighters in Pride you initially saw some guys getting blasted. Now while it still happens guys knowing that they can and will be soccer kicked if they dally around to long at the feet of their standing opponents try like hell to get out of the line of fire instead of butt flopping around like they sometimes did before they legalized the soccer kicks.

10/15/2005 6:05pm,
Strikes to the spine, specifically kicks can paralyze a person. Strikes to the back of the head can damage the brain stem. Strikes to the kidneys are potentially dangerous as well. Eye gouging can permanently blind you. Fish hooking can permanently injure you. The rules are there to prevent permanent injuries and deaths.

However they are loosely enforced. Elbows and punches to the back of the head happen often. Kicks to the back of the head also happen. Borderline spiking happens once in awhile and nothing is done about it.

10/16/2005 6:59pm,
The original rules of the UFC were:
No biting
No eye gouges
No fish hooking
The reason for the rules were because of John McCain and several other polotions.Also te UFC did not want to go under ground forever so the had to get santioned and they came up with rule sets that the states would go for.Also some rules were implied for the safty of the fighters.As for the groin shots look at one of the first UFCs(somewhere between 4 and 8) when I think it was Keith Hakney and Jo Son fighting.Jo Son showed the world he was a practicing iron cup by taking about four shot to the junk.

10/16/2005 8:47pm,
People tried that downward elbow **** BEFORE it was banned in the UFC. (sidenote: some productions never outlawed it). The overwhelming results were:

1) It was theoretically possible to KO or paralyze someone with such a blow;
2) Unfortunately no one was ever KO'd or paralyzed.


1) Because in REAL TIME, it is almost impossible to perfectly time the strike during the adreneline rush and uncertainty of not knowing whether punches, kicks, or a shoot were coming.
2) The impact zone is protected by the head if the shoot is done by someone of skill.
a) The shooter is not bent over at the waist and looking at the ground during the attempt. The head is up, the body somewhat straight up. Your armpit hits the top of the head before impact to the spine is made reducing much of the effect.
b) To hit the back of the head/neck/spine with this strike you would effectively have to NOT strike downward, but strike almost backwards pulling into youself since the person is not bent over.
3) The moment of impact with the strike in question happens to be at the exact range where the shooter has made contract with the striker, and the inertia of that person moving forward negates some of the power of the strike as they are knocked backwards. In theory again it would work, unfortunately the window of opportunity is so small (.05 of a second?) that the timing, as mentioned in point 1 makes it extremely improbable.

What DOES work against a shoot, as demonstrated REPEATEDLY:

1) A knee strike going forward into the shooters face. You aren't trying to get behind thier head somehow at an impossible angle, you are driving straight forward and up - almost the exact OPPOSITE angle needed for the elbow strike.

Hmmmm. Starting to come together?

Let's go a little further with it. Just to be sure.

The downward elbow strike to the spine (or any equivelent) is not 'Tew Deadli' for the UFC. The rules were implemented by commissions around the world to make it more spectator friends and give the impression of safety. The reality is all those rules create an illusion of safety. Take a look at boxing. Any punch or strike can kill you. It is highly unlikely they will. But there is an infinitecimal chance that it could. Like kidney punches. C'mon now.

Let's not fall into the thinking that since a strike COULD kill you that it automatically will. Somehow, somewhere it has been postulated that if you hit a man in the right spot, at the perfect moment in the chest his heart could stop. Okay. Maybe it will. But the chance that it will is so small and so remote that if you rely on this strike to disable your attacker it would be equivelent to hoping lightning strikes just before your assailant attacks.

Now there is an entire genre of myth that many TMA's are buying into; That is the illegal techniques of the UFC are automatic fight stopping magic moves that will disable any grappler, MMA fighter, or streetfighter. The unfortunate reality is that if your style is reliant on those you are, in effect, hoping for that lightning strike. We have discussed ad nauseum on this board that eye gouges and groin kicks, while effective, are difficult to land and are no guarantees in a fight and much more difficult to execute when someone is punching you in the face.

So in conclusion, if these kind of techniques are what you are counting on to somehow save you I sincerely have pity for you. The BEST advice is train in a style (or under a teacher) that does NOT rely on these techniques. But rather, the tried and true methods of stopping a shot would allow a much, much higher chance of success. For example: Sprawl and brawl, knee, counter wrestling with whizzers/crossfaces/etc, or any style/teacher who practices against these techniques in 'real time' in real sparring. Nothing is going to stop you from trying these techniques perhaps as hail mary techniques, or when the skill differential is so great that they are guaranteed, but again if this is your first line of defense or magic technique you are going to be in for serious disappointment and a serious beating when the cold reality finally sinks in.

10/16/2005 9:22pm,

Didn't Paul Varlens KO Cal Worsham with a downward elbow around UFC 5 or so?

10/16/2005 9:49pm,
Remco Pardoel KO'd Orlando Weit with a downward elbow on the ground.

10/16/2005 10:17pm,

Thanks for your post. I knew the rules had been changed to allow UFC to remain sanctioned, not to outlaw TMAs. My question had been do those rules favor grapplers over strikers.

From yours, and previous answers, I take that yes they do, but not nearly enough for it to really matter. Yes the downward elbow can work, but if it ended up being successful enough (Which I guess it never had) the grapplers would adapt to avoiding it as well, much as they currently are good at avoiding knee strikes to the face during the shoot.

10/16/2005 10:35pm,
My question had been do those rules favor grapplers over strikers.

From yours, and previous answers, I take that yes they do, but not nearly enough for it to really matter.
The current UFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champions are primarily strikers, so I don't think it's that big of a deal.

Yes the downward elbow can work, but if it ended up being successful enough (Which I guess it never had) the grapplers would adapt to avoiding it as well, much as they currently are good at avoiding knee strikes to the face during the shoot.
You don't have to shoot to take someone down. Watch some Fedor or Randy Couture fights.

10/17/2005 12:25pm,
Yrkoon pointed out all that needed to be said. For examples of these attempted elbow strikes, take a look at some of Pride's early MMA matches.

One notable one would be Branco Cikatic vs Mark Kerr. Cikatic was a world class kickboxer who trained/fought some of today's K-1 stars, so we know that his striking game was well in order.

Most of the match consisted of the two fighters circling until Kerr shoots in for the double. He does this twice, and twice Cikatic tries the elbow to the back of Kerr's head which pretty much showed no sign whatsoever of phasing Kerr. Problem was that both time Cikatic also grabbed the ropes with his other arm each time it happened.and was eventually disqualified, but not before Kerr picked him up and dumped him on the ground.

The match can be found on Kazaa pretty easily, simply because its a short boring fight, but shows exactly what techniques you were thinking of.