Which Illegal Moves Are Banned In The UFC?

Amidst the chaos and excitement in an MMA fight, there are lines that cannot be crossed. Welcome to the realm of illegal moves in the UFC, where safety is paramount.

From the bone-shattering piledrivers that could leave you paralyzed, to the gruesome act of fish hooking that can tear flesh apart, these moves are strictly prohibited. And let’s not forget the thunderous headbutts that can cause devastating brain trauma.

The list goes on: 12-6 elbows, throat strikes, strikes to a downed opponent, and strikes to the back of the head or spine all have no place in the octagon. The UFC takes fighter safety seriously, considering these dangerous techniques as serious infractions that can lead to point deductions or even disqualification.

So, step into the ring with caution, and let’s explore the forbidden realm of the UFC’s banned moves.

UFC’s Prohibited Techniques

In the UFC, fighters are forbidden from executing dangerous techniques that could cause severe harm to their opponents. These include piledriving, fish hooking, and headbutting. Piledriving is prohibited due to the risk of spinal damage, which ended Stone Cold’s career.

Fish hooking, the act of inserting fingers into the opponent’s mouth or nostrils, is strictly forbidden and can result in disqualification. Headbutts, once acceptable in some MMA promotions, are not permitted in the UFC due to the potential for brain trauma.

Other banned moves include 12-6 elbows, groin strikes, strikes or kicks to the throat, kicking or kneeing a downed opponent in the head, strikes to the back of the head or spine, eye poking, hair pulling, biting, small joint manipulation, grabbing or holding the fence, and soccer kicks.

Violating any of these rules can lead to point deductions or disqualification to prioritize fighter safety.

Spinal Risk: Piledriving

Piledriving is prohibited in the UFC due to the severe risk it poses to the fighter’s spinal health. This technique involves lifting the opponent upside down and driving their head directly into the mat.

The force and impact from this move can lead to serious spinal damage, including fractures, herniated discs, and even paralysis. The UFC prioritizes the safety and well-being of its fighters, and allowing piledrivers would be a grave risk that could potentially end a fighter’s career or even their life.

Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to perform this move during UFC fights. The ban on piledriving is an essential measure to protect the fighters and ensure the longevity of their careers.

Forbidden: Fish Hooking

Fish hooking, a prohibited move in the UFC, involves inserting the fingers into an opponent’s mouth or nostrils and pulling in a twisting motion. This dangerous technique is strictly forbidden due to the potential for severe injury.

The act of fish hooking can cause extreme pain, discomfort, and even tear the delicate tissues of the mouth and nose. Not only does it pose a risk of significant physical damage, but it also goes against the principles of fair play and sportsmanship.

The UFC prioritizes the safety of its fighters, and fish hooking is considered a grave violation of those principles. Any fighter caught fish hooking during a match can face disciplinary action, including disqualification.

It’s crucial for all fighters to understand and respect the rules, ensuring a safe and fair competition.

Brain Trauma: Headbutts

Headbutts are a terrifyingly dangerous technique that can inflict life-altering brain trauma on fighters. In the past, headbutts were permitted in some MMA promotions, but they’re now strictly prohibited in the UFC for the safety of the athletes.

The potential for brain injuries is too great to allow such a devastating move. The force generated from a headbutt can cause concussions, skull fractures, and even permanent brain damage. The impact can lead to immediate loss of consciousness or long-term cognitive impairments.

The risks are simply too high to justify the use of headbutts in professional fights. The UFC’s commitment to fighter safety is evident in their decision to ban this dangerous technique, prioritizing the well-being of their athletes above all else.

Restricted Elbows: 12-6 Elbows

The 12-6 elbows, known as the ‘hammer strikes,’ rain down like a relentless storm, restricted in their ferocious descent in the UFC. These elbows refer to strikes that are thrown vertically from a straight-up position to a straight-down position.

12-6 elbows were the reason why Jon Jones shows one very controversial “loss” in his MMA career.

Jon Jones Only Loss: Why 12-6 Elbows are Illegal in MMA

The name ’12-6′ comes from the motion of the arm resembling the numbers on a clock. The reason behind their prohibition in the UFC is due to the potential for severe injuries, particularly to the head and neck. These strikes can cause significant damage, including concussions and spinal injuries.

The ban on 12-6 elbows ensures the safety of the fighters and prevents unnecessary risks. While other elbow strikes are allowed in the UFC, such as horizontal and diagonal strikes, the 12-6 elbows remain off-limits, with their power and potential for harm deemed too dangerous for the octagon.

No Strikes to Groin

Avoid delivering any strikes to your opponent’s groin, as it can inflict excruciating pain and potentially end the fight. The UFC strictly prohibits any strikes, whether punches or kicks, directed towards the groin area.

Accidental strikes to the groin may happen during the intense and fast-paced nature of a fight, and if that occurs, the fighter who was struck is given up to five minutes to recover. However, intentional strikes to the groin are considered illegal and can result in point deductions or even disqualification.

The groin area is extremely sensitive and vulnerable, and targeted strikes can cause severe damage, potentially leading to long-term injuries. The UFC prioritizes fighter safety, and the prohibition on strikes to the groin is a clear demonstration of their commitment to protecting the well-being of the athletes.

Throat Strikes Prohibited

Strikes to the throat aren’t allowed in UFC fights, and it’s like playing a game of chess without your queen – a major disadvantage.

The throat is a vulnerable area, and targeting it can cause severe damage and potentially life-threatening injuries. By prohibiting strikes to the throat, the UFC prioritizes the safety of its fighters.

This rule ensures that competitors cannot exploit this sensitive area, preventing potential catastrophic consequences. Additionally, disallowing throat strikes maintains the integrity of the sport, promoting fair and competitive fights.

Fighters must rely on their skills and techniques rather than resorting to dangerous and potentially fatal moves. Overall, the ban on throat strikes in UFC reflects the organization’s commitment to fighter safety and fair play.

Illegal Strikes to Downed Opponent

When a fighter is on the ground, it’s like walking through a minefield because any strike to their head or body can cause devastating consequences.

In the UFC, it is strictly prohibited to kick or knee a downed opponent in the head. This rule is in place to protect the safety of the fighters.

Strikes to the head of a grounded opponent can result in serious injuries, including concussions and brain trauma. The UFC recognizes the dangers of these strikes and has taken measures to ensure the well-being of its athletes.

By banning strikes to downed opponents, the UFC aims to prevent unnecessary harm and promote a safer environment inside the Octagon. Fighters must be mindful of these rules and avoid any illegal strikes to avoid point deductions or disqualification.

Back of Head or Spine Strikes

Now let’s talk about another illegal move in UFC fights: strikes to the back of the head or spine. This is a serious offense that can cause severe damage to your opponent’s health and well-being.

The back of the head and spine are extremely sensitive areas, and targeting them with strikes is strictly prohibited. These strikes can result in concussions, spinal injuries, and even paralysis.

The UFC prioritizes the safety of its fighters, which is why this rule is in place. It’s crucial to understand that striking the back of the head or spine can have long-lasting consequences and is considered a dangerous action in the octagon.

Remember, the UFC has banned these moves to protect the fighters and ensure fair and safe competition.

Prohibited: Eye Poking

One interesting statistic is that eye poking is responsible for a significant number of disqualifications in MMA fights. The UFC strictly prohibits any intentional eye pokes, as they can cause serious damage and potentially end a fighter’s career. Accidental eye pokes, although not intentional, can still result in point deductions or even a disqualification depending on the severity of the injury caused.

The rules regarding eye pokes are in place to prioritize fighter safety and prevent any unnecessary harm. Fighters are trained to be mindful of their hand placement and to always keep their fingers closed when striking or grappling with their opponents. Any violation of this rule is taken very seriously by the UFC and can have severe consequences for the offending fighter.


In conclusion, the UFC takes fighter safety seriously by strictly prohibiting illegal moves and techniques. The risk of spinal damage makes piledriving a banned maneuver, while fish hooking and headbutts are forbidden to prevent potential brain trauma.

The use of 12-6 elbows can lead to disqualification, and strikes to the throat, back of the head or spine are prohibited due to their potential for serious damage. These rules create a protective shield around fighters, ensuring their well-being inside the octagon, like a sturdy fortress guarding them from harm.

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