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What is a ‘Technical Decision’? UFC Rules Explained

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Over the weekend at UFC Fight Night Vegas 51, one of the rarest decisions/stoppages occurred, not once, but twice. Two technical decisions happened, confusing not only many MMA fans but the fighters themselves. Let us take a look at what a technical decision is and examples of previous fights where they happened.

According to the Official Unified Rules of MMA, a Technical Decision occurs: “If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout after ½ of the scheduled rounds, plus one (1) second of the fight has been completed, the bout will result in a TECHNICAL DECISION awarded to the fighter who is ahead on the scorecards at the time the bout is stopped.”

To break that down into layman’s terms, if an egregious accidental foul occurs (ie: headbutt, eye poke, groin strike, back of the head strike, etc.), and the fight has gone over half of the rounds and 1 second (1 second into round 3 or 1 second into round 4 in championship fight), the fight will be stopped and headed to the judges’ scorecards for a decision if the fight cannot continue.

Technical Decisions Make Waves

There was almost a third this weekend at Bellator 277 in the finals of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix where challenger Corey Anderson accidentally headbutted champion Vadim Nemkov with 3 seconds left in the third round, opening a cut on the champ’s eyebrow that the doctor considered was too bad to continue. But because the fight was stopped there and not four seconds later, going into the fourth round, the fight was ruled a No Contest instead of going to the judges’ scorecards.

Even though a fighter is a victim of an accidental strike, the rules do not deem them the winner automatically, as seen this past weekend when both victims Chris Barnett and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev lost via technical decisions. Quite interestingly enough, this is not the first double technical decision on one card. The first was at UFC 159, as both Michael Bisping and Ovince Saint Preux were the offenders of eye pokes but still won their fights on the judges’ scorecards.

The ruling of technical decisions has stirred up a lot of discussion between current fighters, with some of them now questioning how legitimate it is. Many are concerned that this may be used as a tactic if a fighter knows they are up on the judge’s scorecards, Jamahal Hill tweeted: “So if I get up in a fight all I have to do is land an illegal shot so the dr stops it and I win? Hmm interesting!!”

It seems like there is a new topic every week regarding the technicalities of MMA whether open scoring, fighter pay, or unified rules is the flavor of the month in MMA. It is highly doubtful that there will be an uptick in technical decisions due to the suggestive reasoning above, but this is MMA, anything can happen.

Only with more discourse and experience will the on topics like technical decisions be remedied and with time understood better. Here’s to hoping there are not too many tech decisions in the future and fights can finish in a natural ending like all should be intended.

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