How Is UFC Scored?

October 2, 2023

Often held in Las Vegas, and commentated by Joe Rogan, UFC fight night is an electric event full of punches, kicks, ground-and-pound and yes, blood. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, owned by Dana White, is a brutal combat sport pitting fighters trained in mixed martial arts (MMA) such as boxing, taekwondo, Muay Thai, wrestling and many other fighting forms.

But aside from knockouts and tapouts, fighters try to score points from the judges to win by decision.

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The UFC Scoring System

UFC uses a 10-point must scoring system in UFC fights, which means that the winner of each round gets 10 points, and the loser of that round gets nine. If one of the fighters thoroughly dominates a round, the loser of that round would only be given eight points.

Typically, there are three judges for each UFC fight. They will judge a round on these scoring criteria:

  • Effective striking/grappling
  • Effective aggressiveness
  • Octagon control

Effective striking/grappling — Judges want to see fight-altering strikes, not inconsequential strikes. Examples of fight-altering strikes are kicks that land hard on the leg or upper torso of the opponent or punches that land squarely on the torso or head.

Those might not necessarily knockout the other fighter, but could weaken them, especially with repeated “effective” strikes. Punches during a clinch from short range won’t be rewarded.

In terms of grappling, a takedown that allows the instigator to gain an advantageous position on the ground, land strikes or attempt a submission could be classified as effective.

Effective Aggressiveness — This scoring criterion measures the amount of pressure one fighter applies to the other. If that pressure results in solid strikes and takedowns, that is classified as “effective” and is thus rewarded highly.

Octagon Control — During an MMA fight, it is important to look for, which fighter controls the center of the ring? Which owns the space better in the octagon? Which controls the pace of the fight more? This scoring factor is not as important as effective strikes, grappling or aggressiveness but is still taken into account.

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How UFC Judges Score a Fight

At a UFC event, understanding how UFC judging works is crucial for both fighters and fans alike. Any UFC fighter, like Jon Jones, Alexa Grasso or Conor McGregor have experienced the ups and downs of UFC judging.

The judges will award round-by-round scores for the bout, which can be either three or five rounds. These are the potential scores for each round:

10-10 – Rarely given, and only in instances where fighters are deemed to have an identical round

10-9 – The most common score, the higher number going to the fighter who wins the round

10-8 – As discussed above, the ‘8’ is given to the loser of the round if he or she is thoroughly dominated in the round, but it is also uncommon

10-7 – This requires an extreme disparity in round performance — total domination — and has only happened one time: Forrest Petz over Sammy Morgan at Ultimate Fight Night 6

How UFC Judges Declare Winner

If you’re wondering “how is the ufc scored?” here are all the forms of decisions a fight can result in:

Unanimous Decision — All three judges agree on who won the fight.

Majority Decision — Two judges score the fight for one fighter, and a third judge scores the fight a draw losing fighter.

Split Decision — Two judges award the fight to one fighter; the third judge awards the fight to the other.

Technical decision – The fight is stopped prematurely – not by knock out or submission – because one of the fighters can’t continue because of an accidental foul (i.e., eye poke). After more than half the rounds are completed, the judges’ scorecards will be taken at that point.

Unanimous draw — All three judges score the fight a draw.

Majority draw — Two judges score the fight a draw and one scores the fight to one of the fighters.

Split draw — Each fighter is awarded a win by one judge, and the third judge scores the fight a draw.

Technical draw — The same as a technical decision, but when the fight is scored a draw.

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Alex Valdes
Alex Valdes is Web Content Manager at Tipico North America. He has written, edited and performed user and site analysis at MoneyTalksNews, NBC Sports, MSN, Bing, MSNBC, as well as newspapers and magazines.