mma, girl model in a black leather suit and medical mask in the ring, in the octagon, announcement of the round

How Many Rounds Are In MMA Fights?

MMA is a full-contact sport that is filled with action. And in order to see all that action, you need to be in the ring for as many rounds as possible. So just how many rounds are in an MMA fight? Here’s your answer:

MMA OrganizationUFCBellatorInvictaOne ChampionshipFFL
Non-Championship Fight Rounds33333
Championship Fight Rounds55555
Non-Championship Main Event Rounds53333

This table shows the number of rounds in MMA fights organized by UFC, Bellator, Invicta, One Championshio and, FFL.

Most American MMA organizations follow the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

There is no unified standard for the number of fights that each MMA organization will hold. The answer depends on what type of fight and when it’s going to be held.

Each MMA organization (UFC, Bellator, Invicta, etc.) may choose whether a three-round fight or a five-round fight will be held in each bout.

In this post, I’ll talk more about the unified rules of MMA, the length of an MMA fight, why there are different rounds among the different promotions, and more.

Read on to find out!

Why Are Some MMA Fights 3 Rounds And Some 5 Rounds?

MMA non-championship fights are three rounds. Since title fights are more important than non-championship matches, they are five rounds. Each round lasts five minutes and there is a one-minute break between each round.

The number of rounds may even surprise the fighters that are about to play.

For example, on May 04, 2021, Mike Bohn tweeted “I’m told this fight will still be a 5-round non-title bout after the postponement.”

Exceptions can also be made in circumstances where the fighter has to play more than once during a single night.

It’s obvious that five rounds give more decisive results. The better athlete has more chances of winning in five rounds as the competitive gap seems to broaden and become more visible to the fans.

On the other hand, thanks to three-round fights — boring matches don’t last long.

However, having three rounds makes less money as well and there are more chances that matches will end with a “draw” — a few people lose and some also win.

Unified Rules of MMA For Fight Rounds

According to the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports, the unified rules of MMA state:

  • Each round shall consist of a five (5) minute duration (professional), with a one (1) minute rest period between rounds.
  • No contests shall exceed five (5) rounds and/or twenty-five (25) minutes.
  • Bouts may consist of one (1), two (2), three (3), four (4), or five (5) rounds, with a five (5) minute duration.
  • No contestant shall exceed competing for more than five (5) rounds and/or twenty-five (25) minutes of fighting in a twenty-four (24) hour period.

This set of rules was designed for the contestants’ safety. For every athletic commission in the US, it’s compulsory to adopt these rules to ensure the safety of the fighters.

MMA promotions that aren’t US-based may differ from the United Rules of MMA.

Importance of Unified Rules of MMA For Fight Rounds

In a highly anticipated Superfight at UFC 5 in 1995, a vengeful Ken Shamrock fired in the first minute on former tournament champion Royce Gracie, exposing the fatal flaw of the lack-of-rounds philosophy. 

For the next 29 minutes of regulation, the two fighters remained prone, grappling for position and executing blow-offs to each other while Shamrock’s balloon-sized muscles became sweatier.

The UFC called a field-of-play decision to extend the game by five minutes due to its panic.

Gracie shot first, and despite Shamrock’s right cross that blossomed a mouse beneath his eye, the fight remained in its set horizontal equilibrium for another five minutes before being decided a draw.

Ref John McCarthy even stood the fighters up for a new start, but it was no use: Gracie shot first and though Shamrock clipped him with a right cross that bloomed beneath his eye, the bout continued in its set equilibrium. The audience jeered as the wrestling went on.

It was then pretty clear that the sport had to change at any cost.

All main event matches, regardless of whether a title was being fought, were set to five five-minute rounds by UFC President Dana White in 2011. This is how the fight rounds were fixed.

How Many Rounds Are In a UFC Fight?

Standard UFC fights (Non-championship) consist of three (3) five-minute rounds. On the other hand, Championship fights and main events are five rounds as the title fights demand more decisive winners.

UFC fans don’t seem worried about the number of rounds much. However, some suggest that a consistent number of rounds would be more healthy for MMA events competitions.

In case of submission or knockout (ko), the referee cuts the fight and announces a winner for each round.

UFC is the most famous among different MMA organizations. Since UFC is a US-based MMA organization, they follow Unified Rules of MMA for their fighters’ safety.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rounds’ length is 5 minutes but it may extend due to additional timeouts. In case of a groin hit or eye poke, the referee can give up to five minutes to the suffering fighter for recovery.

But mostly, fighters don’t avail full five minutes of recovery as they don’t want their opponent to recover as well. Hence, the rounds don’t extend much more than the standard time.

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