Due to the recent, yet surprisingly persistent, trend of disappointing fight results, I decided to look at the rules of the UFC and see what would and wouldn't be preferable.

In keeping to the vale tudo spirit of what has become MMA—which has grown to include certain essential rules, simply for the fighters' safety—let's look at the bare minimum of what the UFC started with and compare it to what it is now.



Early Days of the UFC

What was labeled as having no rules was a contest that really did have rules.

In particular, there was never any eye gouging or biting allowed, and there were timed rounds of 10 minutes (despite not needing them, since the average fight was two minutes and 22 seconds). Soon after, rounds were eliminated for subsequent tournaments until later.

Refs could not stop the fight, and there were no judges since all fights went to the finish, whether by knockout, tap out or a towel being thrown in.

As you can see, there were very limited rules and as many maintain, this could have resulted in a lot of permanent injuries. Rabbit punches, the ref not being able to step in and perhaps even weight classes were a significant risk (although personally, I would be happy with a Pride FC style of weight classes).



Today in the UFC (according to UFC.com)

Weight classes:

Lightweight: over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs. Welterweight: over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs. Middleweight: over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs. Light Heavyweight: over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs. Heavyweight: over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs. Bout duration:

  • All non-championship bouts shall be three rounds.
  • All championship bouts shall be five rounds.
  • Rounds will be five minutes in duration.
  • A one-minute rest period will occur between each round.
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.
  8. Small joint manipulation.
  9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head.
  10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow.
  11. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.
  12. Clawing, pinching or twisting of 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.
  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 an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes 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 has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.
  28. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee.
  29. Timidity, including, but 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.
Ways to win:

  1. Submission by:
    • Physical tap out.
    • Verbal tap out.
  2. Technical knockout by the referee stopping the contest.
  3. Decision via scorecards, including: Unanimous decision: All judges pick the same fighter as the winner. Split decision: One judge picks one fighter, the other two judges pick the other fighter. Majority decision: Two of the three judges pick the same fighter as the winner, the final judge says the fight was a draw. Draw:
    • Unanimous draw.

    • Majority draw.

    • Split draw.
  4. Technical decision.
  5. Technical draw.
  6. Disqualification
  7. Forfeit.
  8. No contest.
Referee may restart the round:

If the fighters reach a stalemate and do not work to improve position or finish.



Resolution

Despite wishes of any commission interference to be completely gone, which would allow the UFC to form its organization as it wants, the reality of the situation is that it is likely here to stay.

As a result, I propose changing some of the subjective parameters (i.e. frivolous rules) in order to help MMA keep its purity and always promote an exciting fight.

Using the current UFC rules list as a template, I will alter it according to how I believe it would function better, liberating fighters to add more versatility in their fights and, of course, mandating that fights will always reach a finish.

One thing should be noted: apparently the new featherweight and bantamweight classes haven't been added to the rules list. As a result, I will compensate for those.

Weight classes:

Bantamweight: over 125 lbs. to 135 lbs.

Featherweight: over 135 lbs. to 145 lbs.

Lightweight: over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs.

Welterweight: over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs.

Middleweight: over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs. Light Heavyweight: over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs.

Heavyweight: over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs. (Otherwise, I say have two classes: under 200 lbs. and over 200 lbs.)

Structure:

Change arbitrary fight selection structure to a tournament style similar to Bellator.

The fighters will have to battle their way through the competition, ensuring a fair shot at the title as well as promoting the most exciting fights imaginable, which often seem to be held at bay by Joe Silva and Dana White for one big day of cash.

The down side, of course, would be that there would be an actual season to the UFC, but the trade off for having exciting fights would be worth it.

Also, the winner of the fight gets 75 percent of the prescribed purse, whereas the loser gets only 25 percent. This will make sure that one, fighters are truly trying to finish the fight as quickly as possible (also due to there being no time limits or rounds) and two, that the UFC hires only the best fighters, making sure the fans get the most exciting fights.

Why should losers, such as James Toney, be rewarded with more money than his opponent, who won?

Competition motivates people to become better, otherwise they get the boot. Why should this principle be any different in the UFC?

We want to see the best fight the best they can. We're not here for charity.

Bout duration:

  • No time limit. (For worries of a fight lasting forever, refer to foul number 29 below.)
  • Abolish rounds. (Using a real fight as the template for MMA in the UFC, as we should be doing in order to retain its intended vale tudo spirit, one must ask, "Are there any rounds in a real fight?" The inevitable answer is a resounding no. MMA is fighting that qualifies as a sport, not the other way around.)
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.
  8. Small joint manipulation.
  9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head.
  10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow. (e.g. Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill)
  11. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.
  12. Clawing, pinching or twisting of the flesh.
  13. Grabbing the clavicle.
  14. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent. (14, 15 and 16 worked fine in Pride FC.)
  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.
  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 an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes injury to an opponent.
  23. Holding the ropes or the fence.
  24. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area. (Pointless.)
  25. Attacking an opponent on or during the break. (There would be no breaks.)
  26. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.
  27. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.
  28. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee.
  29. Timidity, including, but without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury. (In my system, timidity would be taken seriously. If one or both fighters are not actively trying to win [e.g. Ken Shamrock in his super fight with Royce Gracie], the respective fighter's purse will suffer at the discretion of the President.)
  30. Interference by the corner.
  31. Throwing in the towel during competition
Ways to win:

  1. Submission by:
    • Physical tap out.
    • Verbal tap out.
  2. Technical knockout by the referee stopping the contest.
  3. Disqualification (only by way of referee's discretion in conjunction with the UFC President)
  4. Forfeit (by a fighter's corner either throwing in the towel or verbally yelling, "Forfeit!" to the referee three times in a row)
  5. No contest (only by way of referee's discretion in conjunction with the UFC President)


Conclusion

Yes, it's very different than what it is now, but it would rule out those unnecessary aspects of subjectivism by allowing the fight to be finished. In fact, fighters would have to become more competitive in order to ensure victory.

Fighters would also have to increase conditioning in order to fight for longer periods of time.

Of course, the tournament style fighting is the least important change, but that would certainly make for a more interesting UFC.

This is all just a suggestion, but something needs to change. We don't need any more draws, horrible decisions by the judges or rounds preventing submission attempts, position advantages or the potential for a KO/TKO.

If you disagree with my suggestions for improving the UFC, what would you prefer to have changed, if anything at all? Feel free to comment, as I'm just thinking out loud. This is by no means a final product of what I believe should happen in all cases. However, it's a good start.

I want to discuss different options and I'm completely willing to hear all sides. What do you think should change?