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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional And Occupational Licensing
Agency 120. Department Of Professional And Occupational Regulation
Chapter 40. Virginia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Events Regulations
9/16/2021

18VAC120-40-411.20. Mixed martial arts rules.

A. The fighting ring shall be in the shape of a square or an octagon. A square ring shall not be less than 18 feet square within the ropes and shall not exceed 20 feet square inside the ropes. An octagon ring shall not be less than 18 feet (from any side to the opposite side) inside the ropes and shall not exceed 32 feet (from any side to the opposite side) inside the ropes. It shall be canvas and padded in a manner approved by the department or its contractor. The fighting area shall not be more than four feet from the floor and shall have suitable steps or a ramp for use by the contestants. It may be enclosed by a fence made of material that will not permit a contestant to fall out or break through it onto the floor or in spectator area, including, but not limited to, vinyl coated chain link fencing. The fence shall provide two separate entries into the ring. All metal parts shall be covered and padded in a manner approved by the department or its contractor and shall not be abrasive to the contestants. Ring stools shall be of the type approved by the department or its contractor.

B. All contestants are required to wear a mouthpiece during competition. The mouthpiece shall be subject to examination and approval by the ringside physician. The round cannot begin without the mouthpiece in place. If the mouthpiece becomes involuntarily dislodged during competition, the referee shall call time and clean and reinsert the mouthpiece at the first opportune moment, without interfering with the immediate action.

C. Male contestants shall wear a groin protector of a type approved by the department or its contractor. Female contestants shall wear a chest protector during competition, of a type approved by the department or its contractor.

D. Gloves shall be new for all main events and in good condition or they must be replaced. All contestants shall wear either four, five, or six ounce gloves that are supplied by the promoter and approved by the department or contractor. Contestants may not supply their own gloves.

E. Each contestant shall wear two pair of shorts with the top pair being either mixed martial art shorts, biking shorts, or kick boxing shorts. The second pair shall be worn underneath. Gi's or shirts and shoes are prohibited during competition.

F. All contestants shall be cleanly shaven immediately prior to competition, except that a contestant may wear a closely cropped mustache. Hair shall be trimmed or tied back in such a manner as not to interfere with the vision of either contestant or cover any part of a contestant's face.

G. Each nonchampionship contest shall consist of three five-minute rounds with a one-minute rest period between rounds. Each championship contest shall consist of five five-minute rounds with a one-minute rest period between rounds.

H. The referee and ringside physician are the sole arbiters of a bout and are the only individuals authorized to enter the ring area at any time during competition or to stop a contest.

I. All bouts will be evaluated and scored by three judges. The 10 point must system will be the standard system of scoring a bout. Judges will evaluate mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area, and effective aggressiveness and defense. Scores will be weighted in the following order:

1. Effective striking, judged by determining the total number of legal heavy strikes landed by a contestant.

2. Effective grappling, judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown or reversals. Factors considered will be take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position contestants using active, threatening guard.

3. Control of the fighting area, judged by determining who is dictating the pace and location and position of the bout. Factors considered will be countering a grappler's attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking, taking down an opponent to force a ground fight, creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.

4. Effective aggressiveness and defense, judged by moving forward and landing a legal strike and avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.

J. The following objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges by the judges when scoring a round.

1. A round is to be scored as a 10-10 round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows clear dominance in a round.

2. A round is to be scored as a 10-9 round when a contestant winning by a close margin lands the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other maneuvers.

3. A round is to be scored as a 10-8 round when a contestant overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round.

4. A round is to be scored as a 10-7 round when a contestant totally dominates by striking or grappling in a round.

K. Judges shall use a sliding scale and recognize the length of the time the contestants are either standing or on the ground as follows.

1. If the contestant spent a majority of a round on the canvas, the effective grappling is weighed first and effective striking second.

2. If the contestant spent a majority of a round standing, the effective striking is weighed first and effective grappling is second.

3. If a round ends with relatively even amount of standing and canvas fighting, striking and grappling are weighed equally.

L. The referee shall issue a single warning for the following infractions:

1. Holding or grabbing the fence or ropes;

2. Holding an opponent's shorts or gloves; or

3. The presence of more than one second on the fighting area perimeter.

If the prohibited conduct persists after a single warning, the infraction may result in a deduction of points or disqualification.

M. The referee shall deduct points for the following fouls:

1. Butting with the head;

2. Eye gouging of any kind;

3. Biting or spitting at an opponent;

4. Hair pulling;

5. Fish hooking;

6. Groin attacks of any kind;

7. Intentionally placing a finger in any opponent's orifice;

8. Downward pointing of elbows strikes;

9. Small joint manipulation;

10. Strikes to the spine or back of the head;

11. Heel kick to the kidneys;

12. Throat strikes of any kind;

13. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle;

14. Kicking the head of a grounded contestant;

15. Kneeing the head of a grounded contestant;

16. Stomping of a grounded contestant;

17. Use of abusive language in the ring;

18. Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to the opponent;

19. Attacking an opponent on or during the break;

20. Attacking an opponent who is under the referee's care at that time;

21. Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistent dropping of the mouthpiece, or faking an injury);

22. Interference from a contestant's second or corner person;

23. Throwing an opponent out of the ring;

24. Flagrant disregard of the referee's instructions; or

25. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck.

If a foul is committed, the referee shall call time, check the fouled contestant's condition and safety, assess the foul to the offending contestant, deduct points, and notify each corner's seconds, judges and the event inspector or his designee. Disqualification will occur after any combination of three fouls or after the referee determines that a foul was intentional and flagrant. Fouls will result in a point being deducted by the event inspector or designated scorekeeper from the offending contestant's score. Only the referee can assess a foul. If the referee does not call the foul, judges shall not make that assessment on their own and cannot factor such into their scoring calculations. A fouled contestant has five minutes to recuperate.

If a bottom contestant commits a foul, but the top contestant is not injured and he maintains his position, the match shall continue, so as not to jeopardize the top contestant's superior position at the time. The referee shall verbally notify the bottom contestant of the foul. When the round is over, the referee shall assess the foul and notify both corner's seconds, the judges and the event official or his designee. The referee may terminate a bout based on the severity of a foul.

N. If an injury sustained during competition as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a bout, the injured contestant loses by technical knockout. If an injury sustained during competition is a result of an intentional foul severe enough to terminate a bout, the contestant causing the injury loses by disqualification. If an injury is sustained during competition as a result of an intentional foul and the bout is allowed to continue, the referee shall deduct two points from the offending contestant and shall notify the event inspector or his designee. If an injury sustained during the competition as a result of an intentional foul causes the injured contestant to be unable to continue at a subsequent point in the contest, the injured contestant shall win by technical decision, if he is ahead on the scorecards. If the injured contestant is even or behind on the scorecards at the time the competition is stopped, the outcome of the bout shall be declared a technical draw.

If a contestant injures himself while attempting to foul the opponent, the referee shall not take any action in his favor, and the injury shall be treated in the same manner as an injury produced by a fair blow.

If an injury sustained during a bout as a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout shall result in a no contest if stopped before two rounds have been completed in a three round bout or before three rounds have been completed in a five round bout. If an injury sustained during a bout as a result of an accidental foul is severe enough for the referee to stop the bout immediately, the bout shall result in a technical decision awarded to the contestant who is ahead on the score cards at the time the bout is stopped only when the bout is stopped after two rounds of a three round bout or three rounds of a five round bout.

O. There will be no scoring of an incomplete round. However, if the referee penalizes either contestant, then the appropriate points shall be deducted when the event inspector or his representative calculates the final score.

P. Bouts may end in the following ways:

1. Submission by tap out – Contestant physically uses his hand to indicate that he no longer wishes to continue.

2. Verbal tap out – Contestant verbally announces to the referee that he does not wish to continue.

3. Technical knockout – Referee or ringside physician stops the bout when an injury as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate a bout.

4. Knockout – Contestant fails to rise from the canvas before a count of 10.

5. Draws – Unanimous when all three judges score the bout a draw. Majority when two of the judges score the contest a draw. Split when all the judges score the bout differently and the score total results in a draw.

6. Disqualification – An injury sustained during the competition as result of an intentional foul is severe enough to terminate the contest.

7. Forfeit – A contestant fails to begin competition or prematurely ends the contest for reasons other than injury.

8. Technical draw – An injury sustained during the competition as a result of an intentional foul causes the injured contestant to be unable to continue and the injured contestant is even or behind on the score cards at the time of the stoppage.

9. Technical decision – The bout is prematurely stopped due to injury and a contestant is leading on the score cards.

10. No contest – When a contest is prematurely stopped due to accidental injury and a sufficient number of rounds have not been completed to render a decision by the score cards.

Q. Weight classes are as follows:

Weight Class

Weight in Pounds

Max weight difference

Flyweight

125.9 and under

5 lbs

Bantamweight

126 - 134.9

5 lbs

Featherweight

135 - 144.9

5 lbs

Lightweight

145 - 154.9

5 lbs

Welterweight

155 - 169.9

12 lbs

Middleweight

170 - 184.9

12 lbs

Light Heavyweight

185 - 204.9

12 lbs

Heavyweight

204 - 264.9

20 lbs

Super Heavyweight

265 and over

No limit

No contestant may engage in a contest without the approval of the department or the department's representative if the difference in weight between the contestants exceeds the allowance shown on the above schedule.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-831 of the Code of Virginia and 15 USC § 6301 et seq.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 24, eff. September 5, 2007.

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