What is a no-contest in MMA?

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MMA, or mixed martial arts, is strictly a combative and contact sport. While most people are under the impression that any bout has only three outcomes, it may surprise you to know that there is a fourth. Apart from winning, losing, or an all-out draw, there’s the no-contest. If you wonder ‘what is a no-contest in MMA’, do read on.

A no-contest occurs when one of the opponents hits the other in a sensitive part of the body. MMA allows opponents to fight, kick and grapple with each other. During the bout, the fighters are often bound to come into contact with each other. And due to accidental blows being placed, the opponent usually has to withdraw hurt. As a result, a ‘no-contest’ in an MMA bout is declared.

A no-contest, or an NC, is often declared due to reasons stemming from accidental strikes resulting in injury to illegal strikes or moves. For example, MMA considers all kicks to the groin area highly illegal. That would certainly get the bout listed as an ‘NC’.

Incidentally, if it’s discovered that one of the fighters in an MMA tournament had taken illegal substances to boost their performance, that’s grounds for a ‘no-contest’. The same applies to illegal moves, such as a kick to the groin, etc.

What qualifies as a no-contest in MMA?

If this is your first time in an MMA bout, chances are you are bound to mull over “what is a no-contest in MMA”. The MMA governing council has set up a series of rules and regulations that govern an MMA bout.

But when it comes to “no-contest” in MMA, you are bound to find that the rules can vary from one bout to the other. Most of these rules are subjective and depend on the referee’s final call. Here’re a few rules all MMA bouts agree on, stemming from illegal strikes to taking drugs, steroids, and more.

It may be a good idea to check them out, including various rules and regulations governing a bout. It would help if you familiarize yourself with these so that you are prepared for your bouts. Remember, Mixed Martial Arts is strictly a combative and contact sport, with the public often betting on the outcome of these bouts. Learn about the “no-contest”, how to prevent one, and how to close your bout with a win!

“No-contest” and why it’s important:

When declaring a “no-contest” in an MMA bout, the rules can vary from one MMA organization to the other. But there are a few salient points that they all agree on.

 Illegal strikes:

When it comes to Mixed Martial Arts, you are bound to find that the regulations often vary from one organization to the other. But nearly all of them agree where illegal strikes are concerned. For example, a strike or a kick to the groin area, on or below the opponent’s kneecap, behind one’s head, hear one’s ear, or on or below one’s eye. These are just a few examples of why no- contest in an MMA bout is often declared.

Due to these illegal strikes and more, you can incapacitate your opponent so that he is not able to continue with the bout. Your opponent can signal to the referee. The referee will then review the feed to determine if the body blow was an accident or a pre-determined move. If the body blow were no accident, you would have to forfeit the match.

If it were an accidental blow,  the referee would declare a no-contest MMA bout with no winners.

●  Accidental foul:

When it comes to a UFC or an MMA bout, an accidental foul is more commonplace than you would have guessed. As mentioned earlier, this is a combat sport, and there are bound to be more than a few blows to the body. But here’s where the ruling may vary from one fight to the other, as the final call is bound to be subjective and a tad controversial.

A referee would often be required to analyze the live feed to determine if the blow/ move was an accident or not. For example, he would have to determine if the sole objective was to disable the opponent, in which case, you would be disqualified and fined.

If you’re still wondering ‘what is a no-contest in MMA’ and how it applies here, you need to read on. Simply put, a purely accidental body blow will result in a no-contest in an MMA bout. And neither fighter would be declared a winner, either.

 Failed drug test:

One more reason why a bout is often declared a “no-contest” is because of a failed drug test. According to current regulations, all MMA fighters registered with the body will be tested year-round and randomly.

Apart from this, all the participants would be tested for a wide range of drug stimulants, including steroids, just before a bout begins. It’s usually done to ensure that no fighter gets any undue advantage. But there could be various reasons a drug test could return a positive result.

For example, you may have consumed some drink or eaten some food without realizing that it would impact your drug test. Or you may be required to take medication for current health reasons. This could naturally cause the drug test to return a positive.

Naturally, the MMA Council would have taken all this under consideration. That’s why if any one or both the fighters are found to have failed the drug test, a “no-contest” is declared with no winners. The fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier would be the perfect example. After the bout had concluded with Jon Jones being declared the winner, he was found to have failed the drug test. As a result, a “no-contest” was announced, and Jon Jones was stripped of his belt.

Famous contests in MMA history:

When it comes to MMA bouts/ fights and tournaments, it’s not without its fair share of controversy and drama. And, of course, it comes packed to the rafters with high emotions and a punch or two thrown in for good measure. But here are some of the famous/ MMA bouts that you may want to take a closer look at.

  1. Houston Vs Dalby: A no-contest was declared because there was too much blood on the canvas. Remember, this is MMA; there’s bound to be some contact and blood. Needless to say, neither the fans nor the participants were left pleased with the referee’s call.
  2. Hopkins Vs Robert Allen: A no-contest was declared after the referee ejected one of the participants from the ring. Yup, you heard it right; the referee was all too eager to have a clean fight. So he broke up a clinch between the fighters and, in the process, managed to throw Hopkins out of the ring. Due to injury, Hopkins could not continue, and a “No-contest’ was declared.
  3. Tyler Bryan Vs Shaun Parker: Now, this particular MMA fight made it to the MMA record books, though not for the reasons you may have assumed. MMA fights are primarily composed of kicks, punches, and grapples, along with the odd knockout punch.So what happens when you and your opponent each deliver knockout punches to the other in perfect unison. You both end up hitting the mat simultaneously? That took place here, and with both the players being knocked out, a no-contest was declared.


Mixed Martial Arts has long since evolved from being a modern copy of Thai Boxing. It has long evolved into a more refined sport with its own set of rules and regulations. While several organizations devised their own MMA rules, it took a while for the MMA council to regulate and establish unified rules for Mixed Martial Arts (URMMA).

As a result, you are bound to come across similar rules for almost every MMA bout you participate in, with a few differences. Remember that even though MMA is a contact sport, gouging your opponents’ eyes and hitting them on their ears, crotch, or kneecaps is highly illegal. And a repeat offense may well result in you being disbarred from future competitions and losing your belt.

MMA communities prefer their fighters to have even ground, which means entering into a bout with someone in a similar weight category. According to URMMA, there are currently nine weight categories, with flyweight at one end and heavyweight at the other.

It may seem a bit irritating to have a referee declare a “no contest”, especially when you are on the crux of winning the match. But you may want to remember that the rules governing a ‘no contest’ are strictly regulated.

The referee would take the call only after reviewing all the evidence. Essentially a ‘no-contest’ means that there are no winners for that particular bout. The chances are that your opponent is too injured to proceed with the rest of the bout. This is what a ‘no-contest’ is all about.

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