UFC, MMA Fighting & Combat Sports Lifestyle

UFC, MMA Fighting & Combat Sports Lifestyle

Analysing 17 of the Most vicious illegal moves in The ufc

17 Illegal moves Not Allowed in the UFC

Some casual or even non-fans may look at mixed martial arts and the UFC, believing it is a brutal sport. Bingo, bang on the money, it is. But, it is still very much a sport, no matter what some of its detractors might say. But are they aware that there are in fact several illegal moves which are banned in the UFC?

The UFC is not a fee for all, do whatever you want inside the octagon fight. It is a regulated and sanctioned combat sport with a list of predefined and stringent. If a fighter decides to use any illegal or banned moves, they can easily forfeit the fight.

Twelve to six elbows

This is one of those illegal moves that seems to divide opinion with some fans and even fighters think they should be legal. Probably more fans than actual fighters who have to get in there and compete. But the twelve to six or north-south elbow is devastating.

As a fighter who is usually postured up over their opponent, meaning they are basically seated over or on top. The elbow is then thrown downwards with the tip of the elbow bone being used as the weapon. This is an incredibly hard and pointed bone, with all the leverage of the arm. It smashed like a hammer into the bones and flesh of the grounded opponent.

Jon Jones drops illegal 12 t o 6 elbows on Matt Hamill.

We saw this happen when Jon Jones faced Matt Hamill, the only fight Jones officially lost. Being disqualified after landing a couple of shots to the face of Hamill. With the argument being that the force and shape of the elbow can cause just too much damage.

As you can well expect if the elbow goes into an eye socket. It could quite easily land directly on the eyeball, bursting and permanently blinding the fighter.


The precursor to MMA was Vale Tudo that originated in Brazil, which does allow headbutts. If you watch the older fights with fighters you would be familiar with like Chuck Liddell and Mark Kerr taking part. Headbutts were part and parcel of the fight, being allowed both standing and on a grounded opponent.

The result of using headbutts would often be very large cuts, as well as debilitating injuries. The fights looked unbelievably brutal and in a sport that was trying to achieve sanctioning. Headbutts really had no place and were soon removed by the UFC.

Kicks to a Downed Opponent

Many fans came to the sport of MMA after watching Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. Pride was for many the pinnacle of ultra-violence and sport all rolled into one. And while not allowing the 12 to 6 elbow. Pride did allow kicks to the head of a grounded opponent or what became widely known soccer kicks.

Soccer kicks allowed fighters to follow up on a grounded opponent and kick them directly in the head while they were on the canvas. It looked brutal and it was! But Pride fans very much appreciated this element of Pride, making the fight all that more realistic to fans. While to people who don’t like or follow the sport, seeing the move as unnecessary and a step too far.

In order for the UFC to bring MAA into the mainstream of sports. As the rules of the sport evolved, kicks to a downed opponent were banned. And even to this day some fighters still make the mistake of kicking while the opponent is grounded, sometimes leading to a point deduction or even losing the fight.


Groin shots

Now we are not quite sure why anyone ever thought this was a good idea. But nonetheless, allowing fighters to punch one another in the family jewels was part and parcel of the early UFC events. With one fight, in particular, standing out when at UFC 4 Keith Hackney faced Joe Son.

Hackney who was caught in a headlock proceeded to punch the grounded Son directly in the groin. Totally legal at the time, but looking back, looked totally ridiculous. Son took the punishment for some time before releasing his grip, who wouldn’t.

Keith Hackney punches Joe Son in the groin.

So groin strikes were soon removed from the rules, allowing the sport to progress and evolve into what we now see today. And to put things into perspective, just imagine a fighter tried the move today? Apart from it would be an instant disqualification, it would also look really silly.

Fish Hooking

Fish hooking is something anglers will be very familiar with. It’s where the hook gets caught in the month of the fish, allowing then to be caught and reeled in. And in MMA it’s visually very much the same move.

As a fighter would use one or several fingers, placing them inside the mouth of their opponent and using pulling back on the mouth. It’s something you may have seen in collegiate wrestling or even other non combat sport where opponents end up grappling, like rugby.

An extremely dangerous and painful move, it can lead the skin around the mouth being torn and so was banned early on in MMA. The idea being the mixed martial arts is not just a street fight in a cage. But a legitimate combat sport with two skilled opponents. Not two people simply being allowed to assault one another under the guise of sport.

Punches to the back of The head

Punches to the back of the head or rabbit punches have been around combat sports sice their inception. The issue with such punches is that the back of the head is where the spine connects to the head, via the occipital bone.

And with the brain in the head connecting to the rest of the body via the spines surrounding nerves. It has been deemed very unsafe to strike someone in this area. And while the move is banned in the UFC, that doe not mean it doesn’t happen.

As we have seen many time is a melee where a fighter will turn into an oncoming strike. Resulting in them unintentionally being hit to the bad of the head. And it has without a doubt led to many losses, as the fighters involved often lose their equilibrium are unable to coordinate their movements.


Pile driving/Spiking

Pile driving, also sometimes referred to as spiking is right up there in terms of dangerous moves in the sport. Not limited to MMA alone, sports such as rugby as well as wrestling entertainment see it’s use. But in the UFC it is officially banned and with good reason.

The move requires an opponent to be lifted into the air, usually around the midsection. Where the person lifting will then turn the opponents head toward the ground as they slam them headfirst on to the canvas.

Daniel Cormier pile driving / spiking his open workout partner.

The result of the move can and has caused the person to be paralysed as a result and so has been banned from most professional sports. With one of the most well-known instances in MMA was when Kevin Randleman tried a suplex on Fedor Emelianenko. With move turning into a pile driver as Fedor landed directly on his head and not his upper shoulders and back.

Strikes to the spine

Tightly related to the act of spiking or punches to the back of the head. The intention to ban strikes directly to the spine all revolve around the importance of the spinal column. The spine is the main connection between the brain and the rest of the body. So damaging it can result in all kinds of long term, even permanent damage.

MMA fights are competitions and not fights to the death as some casuals or non-fans would like to believe. And for this reason, everyone wants to see fighters walk away to fight another day. While you will see all manner of strikes o the back area, they will be concentrated in the rib areas. Avoiding the spine and avoiding that longer-term damage we all worry about.

Eye gouging

Yet another move that thankfully never made it to the MMA rulebook. Eye gouging is the act of sticking a finger or fingers in your opponent’s eyes. This can happen both on purpose and by mistake but nonetheless can obviously lead to some very unfortunate injuries.

And while some fighters did become known for using such dirty illegal moves. More often than not the gouge or eye poke can lead to the fight being suspended, stopped or even forfeited. But in the worst-case scenario, permanent damage can and does result.

Torn cornea’s detached retina’s, eye-gouging has resulted in several fighters careers being shortened. Some fully recover while others do not, with some being permanently blinded.


Hair Pulling

Believe it or not, World Star Hip Hop is not the only place where hair pulling is used. In the early days of the UFC, pre Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, it was in fact allowed. Meaning that in the early days, we did see some fights in which it took place.

One of the many rules which caused some politicians in the US to push for the sport being banned. Hair pulling would eventually be removed, paving the way for the change from cable TV. To mainstream where MMA would become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

It was the removal of dangerous techniques (and I use the term loosely) which very much led to MMA’s acceptance by most of the mainstream media. Had it not occurred, there’s little doubt it would still be a very niche sport, in much the same way s Vale Tudo in Brazil.

Throat Strikes

Anderson Silva Kicks Dan Henderson
Anderson Silva kicks Dan Henderson in the throat

While these may look good in a movie, strikes to the throat in a real fight environment can have lead to serious injury and even death. With the main focus of an injury in this region being the larynx which is found at the top of the windpipe.

Throat injuries can lead to blood in the throat, shortness of breath caused by massive swelling. And in the worst situations can require a stent to keep the passageway open so the person can breathe. And so, for this reason, such strikes are banned in the UFC.

Instead being part of several other martial art disciplines such as Krav Maga. With the intent of their use being the incapacitation or death of an attacker. Throat strikes have never been a legitimate move in any combat sport.

Biting An Opponent

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I would bite someone if  I was not winning in a fight. As a result, my mother would bite me and ask if I liked it, so that soon put a stop to this very bad habit. But believe it or not, there have been some professional fighters who have tried to bite their opponent when losing.

Whether in or outside of the UFC, there have been recorded instances of fighters losing control during the match. With the most obvious being that of Mike Tyson biting a piece out of Evander Holyfield’s ear on the second attempt. In MMA the worst we have seen are bite marks being left on the body.



Not only is it disgusting, but you probably realized by now that spitting is also banned in the UFC. While there have been some rare occasions where spitting, usually pre-fight. Overall it’s not something we have seen happen inside the octagon.

Michael Bisping discusses his spitting incident inside the UFC octagon.

The most famous example of someone spitting while in the cage would be former middleweight champion, Michael Bisping. When following a firey post-fight exchange with the team of his opponent Jorge Rivera, Bisping approached the cageside and spat at their team.

Small joint manipulation

You have seen the joint manipulation master Steven Seagal perform it with ease in movies. But in real life, if you snap your opponent’s fingers in such a way that they break or are dislocated. You will be disqualified from your fight.

UFC fights are competitions where one fighter will get the victory over another. The point of the fight is competition and not break someone’s joints, temporarily or even permanently disabling them. And while we have seen certain moves which border on career-ending. As a general rule, we do not see fighters attempting to snap one another fingers or toes. But ankles, knees, arms and necks are all fair game.

In Conclusion

As fans, we should rejoice that the barbaric elements of MMA were removed in the sports early years. If that has not been the case and they can continue down the same road of No holds barred. Mixed martial arts would have gone the same way as Vale Tudo in Brazil. Still in existence, but on local cable stations. And not the global phenomenon that we know of today.

Images courtesy of mmaindia.com

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