MMA 101: Why so many rules in MMA?

By Katrina Belcher (

The reason for rules in MMA competition include keeping contestants, ring personnel and spectators safe, and to maintain a sense of fairness and uniformity during each competition.

The number one concern of a referee during a competition, however, is the safety of the competitors.

In fact, one of the reasons rules and regulations were “created” was to make sure competitors were safe and injuries were kept at minimum.

Interestingly, one of the major requirements for becoming certified as an MMA referee is prior knowledge of the sport – that is one must have trained in at least one, if not many, of the martial arts and wrestling techniques that make up MMA.

This just makes sense, because if you don’t know what an omoplata is, you won’t know if a fighter’s shoulder or ankle is getting ready to pop out of its socket. If he’s being stubborn and won’t tap – you’re going to have an injured fighter in the ring – and that injury could end his career.

So for all you wannabe MMA referees out there, while there’s no doubt the sport needs you, it also needs to protect the fighters. Unless you know a D’arce Choke from a Triangle Choke, you really should reconsider your MMA referee decision. Pun intended.

To help you figure out if you know some of the techniques you’ll need to know as a referee, review the videos below.

Open Guard
Open Guard
When a fighter has his opponent on the bottom, but he has not closed his legs around the waist of his opponent, he has him in what’s called his “open guard.” Hip movement is key.

Peruvian Neck Tie
Peruvian Neck Tie
Similar to the Guillotine choke, this move is performed by placing both hands together in the neck area or your opponent. You then pull in and squeeze your arms together while using your legs to trap far side arm and control your opponent’s body.

Rear Naked Choke
Rear Naked Choke
Most common choke used from behind the opponent; you’ll see this all the time. Competitor brings their arm around their opponent’s neck and locks the arm in place by grabbing their opposite arm at the elbow and wrapping the hand behind their opponent’s head.

Use this defensive technique to prevent a single leg takedown attempt.

Read related articles on MMA rules.

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