MMA Rules: 10 Most Illegal Moves

Tim McTiernan@tmt2393Correspondent IFebruary 21, 2012

MMA Rules: 10 Most Illegal Moves

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    Many fans of MMA can find themselves unfamiliar with the rules. In fact, some people even think that there are no rules at all in the Octagon!

    Those people couldn't be more wrong, as MMA now has many, many rules about what is and isn't allowed.

    The rules cover everything from strikes that are or are not allowed, conduct inside the cage that isn't allowed and even attire that isn't allowed—I'm talking to you, Dennis Hallman.

    Let's take a look at 10 of the most illegal moves or strikes in the UFC today.

Groin Shots

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    Groin shots are one of the main illegal strikes that you will see occur inside the Octagon.

    If a fighter is hit with a shot—and the ref sees and stops the action—the fighter is given up to five minutes to recover.

    If the fighter is unable to recover after the given time, the fight can end in a DQ loss for the striker, or it could be called a no-contest.

Fish Hooking

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    Fish hooking is, well, just look at the picture and you can see.

    You can fish hook the mouth, nose, even the eyes—if you're a really dirty fighter.

    I can't think of an instance of this happening in the Octagon.

Punches to the Back of the Head

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    Another one of the top things you'll see happen is a fighter get warned not to punch "the back of the head."

    Punching the back of the head is dangerous, and it could potentially cause severe damage to a fighter. Thus, it is not allowed.

    One of the most notable examples of punching the back of the head was Brock Lesnar's first fight against Frank Mir, where he was deducted one point and restarted standing up.

    The stoppage in the action led to Mir having a chance to recover, and Lesnar's eventual loss in the fight.


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    Piledriving is also known as "spiking" your opponent on their head.

    This is legal in WWE, and was legal in Pride, as you can see in the video, but it's not legal in the UFC.

    Fighters rarely—if ever—get scolded for this because it is so uncommon. Even if it does happen, the best a ref can do is say not to do it again.

Eye Gouging

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    Eye gouging, or eye poking, is another illegal move in all of MMA.

    A poke to the eye can result in a temporary stoppage of action, or a TKO or DQ loss for the poker.

    In the case of Anthony Johnson, he lost a fight after being poked in the eye. That is an uncommon decision, and it was considered by many to be a bad call.


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    Headbutts were once legal in older organizations, but in almost every MMA organization today, headbutts are illegal.

    They are dangerous and can cause bad cuts on both fighters.

    Oftentimes, headbutts can be so quick that they go unnoticed by the referee. An instance of this was Roger Gracie's fight against Muhammed Lawal, where Gracie was rocked by a headbutt that the referee didn't notice due to how fast it happened.

    A headbutt would result in a stoppage of action and potentially a no-contest or disqualification.

Hair Pulling

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    Hair pulling doesn't happen that often—if at all—in the UFC these days.

    A fighter pulling hair would be painful and could be used to gain a position or stop the fighter from gaining position.

    Hair pulling could cause a stoppage in the action and a point deduction.

12-6 Elbows

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    See, there was a reason for having Jon Jones in the intro of the slideshow all along.

    12-6 elbows aren't called very often, because they simply aren't attempted very often. Most fighters don't get the opportunity to use such a strike.

    12-6 elbows are elbows that travel straight down, from the ceiling to the floor. These elbows are more dangerous than a normal elbow strike, and they can cause serious damage.

    Jon Jones was disqualified for the use of these elbows at The Ultimate Fighter 10 finale, where he was well on his way to earning a TKO victory over Matt Hamill.

Kicks/Knees/Stomps to the Head of a Grounded Opponent

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    This is something that you could have seen in Pride but will never see inside the Octagon.

    Kicks, knees, stomps and any type of strike was legal to the head of a grounded opponent. That means that positions like sprawl, north-south and side control were much more dangerous in Pride than they are in the UFC.

    Any of these illegal strikes can cause a stoppage to action, point deductions and possible disqualification losses.

    You may remember Michael Bisping against Jorge Rivera at UFC 127 for an example of this.

Holding the Fence

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    Probably the most widely-seen illegal move inside the Octagon is when a fighter grabs the fence, or puts their hand on top of the cage.

    Fighters grab the cage when they're attempting to jostle for position in the clinch, avoid a takedown or when they're badly rocked and don't know what's going on.

    Grabbing the cage can result in a warning from the referee, point deductions and a reset in the center of the Octagon.

    Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow me on twitter @TimMcTiernan.


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