Mixed Martial Arts Rules: 6 MMA Illegal Moves During a Fight

Want to know some MMA rules? Here you’ll find the ultimate MMA illegal moves that can help you defeat your opponent but certainly won’t make you win the fight.

If you are new to MMA, you may be confused about the rules and what can or cannot be executed during the fights. The funny thing is that the line between what is considered a good move and a deadly one is pretty thin, so in this case, we decided to take expert advice. 

To be a part of MMA is crucial to know the top six MMA illegal moves for which you can easily get banned, no matter if you do them purposely or accidentally. 

Mixed Martial Arts Rules: 6 MMA Illegal Moves During a Fight 

In order to satisfy your curiosity, we got in touch with the MMAWhisperer.com training professionals to tell us more about the ultimate MMA illegal moves, and surprisingly enough, there are quite a few. Here we will discuss the top six moves martial arts prohibit executing on your opponent. 

Headbutting, throat and neck punching, 12 to 6, are strongly prohibited as they might cause severe brain and spinal damage and result in death. The “dirty moves”, like hitting the private parts, then hair-pulling, eye-poking, or hitting the back of the neck, all take part in the illegal moves as well.

List of the Top 6 Illegal Moves in MMA During a Fight 

Striking the opponent with your head 

Headbutting involves striking the opponent with the front of your head. This move is illegal in almost every form of sport fighting in the civilized world. The only combat sports that allow headbutts are Burmese boxing and Vale Tudo. 

Why headbutts are illegal

  • Cause bleeding stoppages

Headbutts can lead to open cuts, cause unsatisfactory bleeding stoppages, and would be gruesome to watch. 

One of the main reasons why headbutts are banned is the fact they can cause massive trauma. It can be pretty difficult for the medical team to stop the bleeding, which can interfere in the competition. 

  • Cause concussion

A headbutt to the fragile nose bone, with the right angle, is hard on the person’s head and can cause a concussion. Additionally, it can decisively alter the outcome of the fight.

Headbutting may result in a broken nose that will bleed heavily, obscuring vision and causing pain and disorientation. Headbutts also give a target for later blows, which can be deadly. 

In the game, while your head is moving and it suddenly crashes against the opponent’s head, your brain will suffer more trauma and almost definitely cause you to suffer a concussion. 

The “dirty move” striking the groin 

MMA groin strikes have been declared illegal since 1867, while in Muay Thai, they were prohibited much later in the 1980s.

This move was legal in point sparring for several decades and still is in some competition circuits like Silat and Panantukan. 

Additionally, groin strikes are allowed in martial arts as a system of self-defense for obvious reasons. 

Why groin strikes are illegal

  • Serious impact on the male and female reproductive system

Groin strikes are still illegal today in almost all MMA, and they are considered a “dirty move” in both male and female competition. Male kickboxers still wear cups to prevent long-term impact on the reproductive system. 

Not only are they unreasonably painful, but a strong kick between the legs, in the worst case, can cause a fracture in the pubic bone. These types of fractures can be significantly more problematic than, e.g., arm or leg fractures. 

Internal bleeding risks are higher, and there’s a small chance of sustaining damage to the genital or reproductive organs. 

  • Lead to long breaks and termination of the competition 

It’s common for competitors to accidentally groin strike because of poorly executed inside leg kicks or extremely fast movements, which often lead to long and painful breaks and even termination of the fight. 

12 to 6 elbows 

The name of this rule is based on the concept of the 12 and 6 on the clock, which includes bringing the elbow straight up from 12 o’clock to down motion at 6 o’clock. 

The athletic commission made this move illegal because of the ability of some karate competitors to break big blocks of concrete and ice by doing 12 to 6 elbows, as it generates a great amount of power. 

Why 12 to 6 elbows are illegal

  • The head gets stuck

If you are mounted on top of someone, and you are coming down with tremendous force all concentrated into the pointy area of your elbow, and you smash the orbital bone, it could do some serious permanent damage.

  • Spine strikes aren’t allowed 

Strikes to the spine aren’t allowed, and if someone shoots in for a sloppy shot, you start smashing right directly down with the 12 to 6 elbow to the spine; it’s considered an illegal movement. 

Throat and neck punching 

There is common confusion when it comes to neck striking and choking. Well, the strikes are illegal since they might result in the opponent being unable to breathe, while chokes are different. 

Actually, throat punches are halfway legal. Crushing a throat with a punch deliberately and stomping on a throat is illegal, but slapping a choke is legal. 

It’s also considered legal when you hit someone in the throat or kick or punch them. When this happens, no referee will call it, providing that you use it as a head extension.

In Jiu-Jitsu, the majority of blood and trachea chokes are legal to submit to the opponent. 

Why throat and neck punches are considered illegal 

  • Result in the instant knockout

Throat punching can kill someone if you hit hard enough. When you start punching near the throat, the opponent instinctively drops their chin to protect the trachea in a fight, as a blow to the windpipe can easily stop breathing.

  • Might cause death 

Throat shots also deprive the blood from reaching the brain, especially in choking. A good hit can result in an instant knockout, and there are dangers for the heart to stop pumping.

Scratching, hair pulling, eye poking

These moves aren’t very common in male MMA as they are usually considered unmanly; however, some still use them, especially in desperation. In comparison, these are some of the go-to-fighting tactics for women.

When it comes to eye poking, it takes a bit more guts for violence to do that to others. Even in the heat of a fight, most people won’t have the cruelty to go for an eye-poking. Still, in moments of desperation, it’s not a hard move to use when grappling distance and as a game-ender, if it lands successfully. 

Back-of-the-head punches 

Direct strikes at the back of the head and the spine are illegal moves in all MMA as they can seriously damage motoric and brain functions. This rule also includes the so-called “rabbit punches”, as this area of the human body is the most vulnerable to injuries. 

Even though in MMA it occurs less frequently, it is usually used when the opponent has their back turned, and the fighter has access to their occiput. 

Why back-of-the-head punches are considered illegal

  • Damage to the brain and the spinal cord 

Hard hits on the spinal cord can cause brain injuries, damage the spine and even cause paralysis. 

While there were no cases when a fighter died from a rabbit punch, the famous and unbeaten boxer, Richard Colon, suffered from catastrophic damage to the brain by his opponent Terrel Williams and went into a coma for 221 days.

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