UFC Decision Types: Unanimous vs Majority vs Split Decisions

Since becoming UFC president, Dana White has been repeatedly preaching the same lesson to his athletes: “Never leave a fight in the hands of the judges”.

But despite Dana’s best attempts to inspire as many exhilarating finishes as possible, a significant percentage of fights will inevitably reach the final bell, much to the president’s dismay. This is where the judges will be called upon to elect a winner.

Naturally, this procedure can be controversial at times, especially with some judges lacking sufficient knowledge of the MMA culture.

So how can a fighter win a decision in the UFC? What are the types of decisions in mixed martial arts? And can they be overturned?

How Do You Win a Decision in UFC?

In order to win a decision in the UFC, a fighter needs at least two of the three judges to score the fight in his favor. If all three select the same winner, it would count as a unanimous decision.

According to the Unified Rules of MMA, judges score the bout based on the following elements:

  1. Effective striking and grappling
  2. Effective aggression
  3. Ring/Cage control

This list above shall be treated in the order above. In other words, effective striking and grappling is the most elemental consideration when scoring a bout. It’s followed by effective aggression with octagon control considered the least important factor in the equation.

Moreover, each round is scored on its own, with the winner receiving 10 and the loser collecting 9 or less. A dominant round can be scored 10-8, while the scarcely seen 10-7 is reserved for extremely rare demolition jobs.

Types of UFC Decision

In this section, we’ll explain the three types of decisions that could occur every time the judges hand their scorecards at the end of a UFC fight.

Unanimous Decision

A unanimous decision ensues when all three judges score either score the bout in favor of the same competitor (unanimous win) or all three of them call it a draw (unanimous draw).

A unanimous decision doesn’t necessarily include the exact same scorecard handed by all three judges, but rather the same outcome. For instance, if the scorecards read 30-27, 30-26 and 29-28 all in favor of the same fighter, it will count as a unanimous decision win.

Majority Decision

A majority decision occurs when two judges score the bout in favor of the same fighter while the third judge calls it draw. This would result in a majority decision win.

On the other hand, if two judges score the fight as a draw with the third electing one of the fighters as the winner, this would be a majority draw.

Split Decision

A split decision takes place when two judges score the bout in favor of a fighter while the third judge picks his opponent. The competitor who gets the nod from two judges prevails in a split decision win.

But if one judge elects Fighter A as the winner, a second judge picks Fighter B and a third judge call it a draw, this would result in a split draw.

Can the UFC Overturn a Decision?

The simple answer is no. The UFC cannot overturn a decision, not even when the fans call for the heads of incompetent judges following a “robbery”.

Decisions can only be overturned by the committee in case foul play was discovered after the bout, with failed drug tests being the most common example. If the infringement is committed by the winner, the fight will likely be ruled as a no-contest.

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Michel Sakr

A freelance sports writer from Beirut, Lebanon. A football fanatic and a Juventus supporter since childhood, but also keeps an eye on various sports around the globe. Currently contributes at Cultofcacio.com and Juvefc.com You can follow Michel on Twitter or Facebook.

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