http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UfcEvolution of the UFC rules
UFC 1 - Although the advertising said there are no rules, there were in fact some rules: no biting, no eye-gouging, and rounds were to last five minutes, although no match in the first tournament lasted that long. Fights ended only in the event of a knockout, a submission, usually signalled by tapping the hand three times on the mat or opponent, or by the corner throwing in the towel. Despite this, the first match in UFC 1 was won by referee stoppage, even though it was not officially recognized as such at the time. Another thing to point out was that on the broadcast the rules stated that groin strikes were banned and that rule was seemingly upheld as no one did any groin strikes.
UFC 2 - Time limits were dropped. Groin strikes were unbanned. Modifications to the cage were added (higher fences and less floor padding.)
UFC 3 - The referee was officially given the authority to stop a fight in case of a fighter being unable to defend himself. A fighter could not kick if he was wearing shoes. This rule would be discarded in later competitions.
UFC 4 - After tournament alternate Steve Jennum won UFC 3 by winning only one bout, alternates (replacements) were required to win a pre-tournament bout to qualify for the role of an alternate.
UFC 5 - The organizers introduced a 30-minute time limit. UFC 5 also saw the first Superfight, a one-off bout between two competitors selected by the organizers with the winner being crowned 'Superfight champion' and having the duty of defending his title at the next UFC.
UFC 6 - The referee was given the authority to restart the fight. If two fighters were entangled in a position where there was a lack of action, the referee could stop the fight and restart the competitors on their feet, in their own corner. In UFC 6 they officially adopted the 5 minute extension to the 30 minute rule which had been used in UFC 5.
UFC 8 - Time limit changed to 10 minutes in the first two rounds of the tournament, 15 minutes in the tournament final and Superfight. Fights could now be decided by a judges decision if the fight reached the end of the time limit. The panel was made up of three judges who simply raised a card with the name of the fighter they considered to be the winner. In this fashion, a draw was not possible since the only two possible outcomes of a decision were 3 to 0 or 2 to 1 in favor of the winner.
UFC 9 - To appease local authorities, closed fisted were banned for this event only. The commentators were not aware of this last minute rule that was made to prevent the cancellation of the event due to local political pressures. Referee "Big John" McCarthy made repeated warnings to the fighters to "open the hand" when this rule was violated. However, not one fighter was reprimanded.
Ultimate Ultimate 1996 This event was the first to introduce the "no grabbing of the fence" rule.
UFC 12 - The main tournament was split into a heavyweight and lightweight division; and the eight-man tournament was abandoned. Fighters now needed to win only two fights to win the competition. The Heavyweight Champion title (and title bouts) was introduced, replacing the Superfight title (albeit matches were still for a time branded as "Superfights").
UFC 14 - The wearing of padded gloves, weighing 110 to 170 g (4 to 6 ounces), becomes mandatory. Gloves were to be approved by the UFC.
UFC 15 - Limits on permissible striking areas were introduced. Headbutts, groin strikes, strikes to the back of the neck and head, kicks to a downed opponent, small joint manipulation, and hair-pulling became illegal.
UFC 21 - Five minute rounds were introduced, with preliminary bouts consisting of two rounds, regular non-title bouts at three rounds, and title bouts at 5 five minute rounds. The "ten point must system" was introduced for scoring fights (identical to the system widely used in boxing).
UFC 28 - The New Jersey Athletic Control Board sanctions its first UFC event, using the newly developed Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Major changes to the UFC's rules included barring knee strikes to the head of a downed opponent, and elbow strikes to the spine and neck. Limits on permissible ring attire, stringent medical requirements, and regulatory oversight were also introduced. A new weight class system was also introduced. This new set of rules is currently the de facto standard for MMA events held in the USA and is still in use by the UFC.
UFC 31 Weight classes are re-aligned to the current standard. Bantamweight moves from 150 to 155 and becomes known as Lightweight. Lightweight becomes known as Welterweight, Middleweight becomes Light Heavyweight, and a new Middleweight class is introduced at 185.
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