UFC Point Deduction: When Are Points Deducted?

When a UFC fight does not end in a decisive knockout or a painful submission, we must resort to the judges’ scorecards and consequently the overall points decision.

UFC operates on a ten-point scoring system with the three judges scoring the rounds by awarding the round victor with 10 points while the round loser receives 9 points or less. Consequently, points are crucial for fighters as they are not guaranteed a knockout or win via submission.

But in almost every UFC fight, the spectator is nearly guaranteed to see a foul from either or both fighters, these fouls can cost the individuals points and cost them victory.

But which fouls result in a point deduction? And how many points are deducted for each foul?

UFC Fouls List 

There are 27 official fouls stated by the UFC, each foul can result in the committing fighter losing one point. Disqualification may also occur if the referee believes that the fighter has used a combination of these fouls or if the foul was committed to ensure damage to the opponent.

FoulPoints Deductable
Butting with the head1 point
Eye gouging of any kind1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Biting or spitting at an opponent1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Fish hooking1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Hair pulling1 point
Spiking an opponent to the canvas on their head or neck1 point
Rabbit punches1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Throat strikes of any kind1 point
Fingers outstretched toward an opponent’s face/eyes1 point
Downward pointing elbow strike1 point
Groin attacks of any kind1 point
Kneeing and/or kicking the head of a grounded opponent1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Stomping a grounded opponent1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Holding opponent’s gloves or shorts1 point
Holding or grabbing the fence1 point
Small joint manipulation1 point
Throwing an opponent out of ringPossible DQ if the referee deems it necessary
Striking an opponent outside of the fighting areaPossible DQ if the referee deems it necessary
Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh1 point
Timidity1 point
Using abusive language in the fighting area1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Flagrant disregarding of the referee’s instructions1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Unsportsmanlike conduct that causes injury to an opponentPossible DQ if the referee deems it necessary
Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Attacking an opponent during the break1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)
Interference from a fighter’s corner1 point (possible DQ if the referee deems it necessary)

When Are Points Deducted in UFC?

Points are deducted in UFC when a fighter breaks the official rules of the mixed martial arts organisation – these are known as fouls and can only be called by a referee.

Fouls often result in point deductions by the fight’s official scorekeeper, this scorekeeper is responsible for calculating the overall score of the fight after factoring in the point deductions for each fighter.

Eye Poke

An eye poke foul in UFC is when a fighter strikes their opponent in the eye with their thumb or fingers, this type of foul can risk serious damage to the fighter’s eyes and is seen as a dangerous foul in UFC.

Fighters are deducted one point for an eye poke however a second eye poke from the same fighter can result in a disqualification.

Groin Strike

Often seen as one of the main illegal strikes in UFC, a groin strike is where a fighter kicks or punches their opponent’s groin either accidentally or on purpose.

If the fouled fighter can continue after being hit by the groin strike, his opponent will receive a one-point deduction. If a second strike occurs, accidental or not, the fighter committing the foul can be disqualified – this ultimately comes down to the referee’s decision on whether to deduct another point or disqualify the fighter.

Shorts/Gloves Holding

Shorts or glove holding is a less serious foul in UFC as it mostly consists of a fighter pulling/holding his opponents’ gloves and/or shorts to gain an advantage in a bout.

A fighter who is penalised for holding gloves or shorts will be deducted one point every time the foul is caught by the referee.

Kicking a Grounded Opponent

Although it was once legal to kick an opponent when grounded in UFC, the action is now deemed as a foul. This foul occurs whenever a fighter kicks or knee their opponent when they are on the ground or not stood up, this includes when a fighter is only on his knees/knee as he’s still not standing upright.

kicking a grounded opponent will automatically earn the offender a one-point deduction, however, if the foul is deemed as dangerous and deliberate, the referee can disqualify the fighter for the foul.

Rabbit Punching

A rabbit punch is when a fighter strikes their opponent with a blow to the back of the head or base of the skull, risking dangerous damage to their opponent’s cervical vertebrae.

This foul is seen as particularly risky because it can lead to potential spinal cord issues and damage to the victim’s brain stem. Each rabbit punch can lead to a one-point deduction, however, a referee can decide to disqualify the fighter if too many of these fouls occur.

Hair Pulling

One of the simpler fouls on the list, hair pulling is where a fighter pulls the hair of their opponent to gain an advantage and is penalised by the referee.

Fighters will be deducted one point each time they commit the offence. This is a less-seen foul in UFC as many of the fighters choose to have shorter hair when fighting.

Fence Holding

Fence holding in UFC is a foul where the offending fighter holds onto the chain fence of the octagon during the fight.

Referees will warn the fighter or smack their hand off the fence to avoid this foul, however, the fighter will receive a one-point deduction every time they hold the fence during the fight rounds.

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James Worthington

James is a sports writer from Leicestershire with a strong interest in football, boxing, and rugby union. He has considerable experience in the sports media industry, having worked with numerous professional sports clubs in the UK and the Netherlands. See James' portfolio

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