Illegal Moves in UFC: The Don’ts and No’s of the Octagon

As you might have expected, certain moves are banned or prohibited on UFC’s battlefield. This is in formal compliance with the Unified Rules of MMA.

The Unified Rules of MMA, govern a variety of specifications and limitations about the game.

It can include criteria for judging, fouls, prohibited substances, weight classes, number of rounds, medical requirements, and lastly the so-called illegal moves.

Hence, I will go over UFC’s illegal moves one by one to make things easier for you!

The Major UFC’s Illegal Moves

The Major UFC’s Illegal Moves

The Groin Attack

Groin shots are very common in the octagon. And although this may sound like an excuse, it can accidentally occur at the most intense part of the game.

Perhaps the fighters are on fire for the championship. Or maybe they get carried away. Who knows? But one thing’s for sure, it can happen in a non-intentional way. Especially when a fighter throws a leg kick, unintentionally hitting the part where it hurts the most. Ouch.

When groin attacks happen, a player is given five minutes to recover and regain strength. However, if the player fails to do so, the fight can end in a disqualification loss for the striker or no-contest.

The Brutal Fish Hook

This is a very rare occurrence in the history of UFC’s octagon. But it did happen. And to tell you what, it is a very brutal and unsportsmanlike move to attempt to win the game. Emphasis on attempt because it is never allowed.

It happens when a fighter inserts his fingers inside the opponent’s mouth or nostrils to pull and/or tear it. Doesn’t it sound so nasty and brutal?

As mentioned previously, this rarely takes place at all. The only prominent person who had ever done this in the octagon is Bryan Caraway. Back in 2014, he used the banned move on Erik Perez while holding him in a rear-naked choke.

Unfortunately, the referee failed to call it out. Hence, Caraway was able to bag a submission win on that day.

illegal moves in ufc

The Vicious Headbutt

In the traditional years of MMA, a headbutt is allowed in the octagon. But today, it has been prohibited due to the dangers that it can bring to the fighters.

Headbutt, especially when done aggressively, can cause bad cuts on both fingers. It may also lead to severe head trauma and irreparable damages that can linger for the rest of your life.

One of the most notable headbutts is Roger Gracie’s loss against Muhammed Lawal whereas the latter did a headbutting to finish the game once and for all.

To be fair, it’s less brutal as compared to other illegal moves here. Some prominent personalities such as Joe Rogan himself advocate for its legalization.

Despite such talk, headbutts remain to be banned. So naturally, it can lead to a stoppage in action, disqualification, or no-contest.

The 12-6 Elbows

This move, often subjected to debates, is named after an analogy of a wall clock. In simpler terms, the 12 is at the topmost position whereas the 6 sits at the bottommost part.

In reality, it occurs when an elbow travels straight down, from the ceiling to the floor. The position of the elbow itself is dangerous to the one receiving it.

The only example of this is Jon Jones’ disqualification for using such a move at The Ultimate Fighter 10 finale. Despite a dominant performance leading up to the illegal elbow, Jon Jones was handed a loss via disqualification.

illegal moves in the UFC and disqualification
Jon Jones after disqualification via Illegal 12/6 elbow landed on Matt Hamill

The Pile Driving Offense

Piledriving is often associated with the word spiking. Although that is relatively true, piledriving is not your ordinary blow of spike.

To be more specific, it is smashing or spiking your opponent’s head or neck toward the canvas. And obviously, it can cause severe damage to the head, as well as the spinal cord.

Surprisingly, it is allowed in certain organizations such as WWE and Pride. However, in the UFC, it is a prohibited action.

An instance of this is when Rose Namajunas lost her precious UFC Strawweight belt due to an excruciating piledrive.

The Rabbit’s Punches

As interesting as it sounds, it is simply a hard punch or blow to the back of the head or neck. Despite the cute name, it sends debilitating pain to the one receiving it.

The head (or neck) is perhaps one of the most vulnerable parts of our body – and for that, a good blow to it can trigger serious and lifelong injuries.

One example of this is Brock Lesnar’s rabbit punch in his first-ever fight with Frank Mir.

He was not called out for disqualification though. Mir was able to recover and emerged triumphantly at the end of the fight. Whether it was karma or a comeback, is completely up to you.

Holding the Fence

The name in itself is self-explanatory. It happens when a fighter holds the fence during the fight for support.

Undeniably, a fight can be such a struggle as your opponent tries to maul or hold you in an unbreakable clinch against the cage.

This can be a fairly instinctive action from the players. And while it may not hurt, it is deemed a sort of malpractice. Thus, it has continued to be banned for a while now.

Khabib’s fight against Conor McGregor is one of the most blatant displays of this illegal move. McGregor was already losing control over his body so he grabbed the fence to avoid the takedown.

Luckily, it is a lesser offense as compared to other moves. Usually, it can result in a warning from the referee, point deductions, or a reset of the game.   

illegal moves in ufc

 Final Words

The above-mentioned illegal moves are just a few of a long list of banned practices in the rings of UFC.

There are other illegal moves such as eye hooking, small joint manipulation, hair pulling, biting, and a lot more.

While some people may disagree, the prohibition of these practices is for the sake of the health condition and well-being of both, male and female UFC fighters.

UFC fighting is such an aggressive sport where lethality can happen anytime if the regulators don’t make drastic precautions to prevent it.

Hence, it is important to take note of these illegal moves in UFC and the Don’ts and No’s when you fight inside the octagon.