Can You Use Pressure Points In The UFC?

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Many points in the body are more sensitive to strikes and cranks than others. So it’s reasonable to believe that learning about exploiting these pressure points can give fighters the winning advantage.

Nevertheless, some UFC fans believe that targeting pressure points makes no difference in an MMA fight. With my reasoning misaligning with the popular opinion, I had to make sense of pressure point fighting in the UFC.

But then I found myself wondering, “Can you use pressure points in UFC in the first place?”

I’ve broken down pressure point fighting and its applicable rules in this post.

Can You Use Pressure Points In The UFC?

Yes and no – it depends on where the pressure point is. The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts defines moves that are too dangerous to use. Also, hitting the spine, throat, orifices, and small joints is off-limits for UFC fighters. But the fighters can strike the pressure points that are legal to hit. 

Hitting pressure points can have a range of outcomes. It can cause excruciating pain, stun the opponent, disrupt the fighter’s balance, and slow down reflexes. Striking these points just right can make the opponent drool, cause involuntary muscle spasms, or even knock them out. 

Every martial arts form has moves that target pressure points specifically. Here’s an example – moves like the inside leg kick and head kick in Muay Thai target specific points in the body that cause a lot of damage. 

From a fighter’s standpoint, targeting these spots can be an effective winning tactic. 

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Methods of Pressure Point Fighting in MMA

Modern martial arts recognize three main methods of pressure point fighting:

  1. Pain compliance techniques: Moves such as the neck crank. These can cause extreme pain and lead to submission.
  2. Blood flow techniques: Moves like the rear-naked choke. These can knock an opponent out due to restricted blood flow.
  3. Impact techniques: Strikes to sensitive areas like the head that can knock the opponent out.

Every method has a different approach to disorienting the opponent – which also means each method has different consequences. For example, pain compliance techniques won’t knock a fighter out, but well-executed blood flow and impact techniques often end with the opponent blacking out.

While you can use pressure point techniques in MMA, the unified rules restrict you from using some moves. 

But in almost every UFC fight, you will notice that fighters target pressure points all the time. So, from this perspective, you could say targeting pressure points is encouraged from this perspective.

Do Pressure Points Work In A Fight?

A man pointing out pressure points on another man

Using pressure point fighting techniques in fights can work – but factors like adrenaline, accuracy, and stress often make these techniques irrelevant. You also have to remember that fighters train to endure pain, so using these techniques may not be effective. That said, pressure point techniques can disrupt breathing patterns and disorient the opponent, making them more of a default target rather than a questionable one.

The effectiveness of using pressure points depends on various factors, the most evident of which are adrenaline, accuracy, and stress.

Fighters have a lot of adrenaline pumping when they’re in the octagon. This can make hits to pressure points hurt a lot less. Will these hits sting the opponent? Certainly, but there’s no telling whether pressure point fighting will lead to a knockout or submission. 

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You also have to think about movement: fighters don’t stand still in fights. There’s a lot of circling around, closing in, and rushing out. Getting a clean shot to the right point between all of that is very challenging. Pulling it off requires excellent accuracy and perfect timing.

Stress is another big consideration that needs to be factored in. As fighters miss strikes and fail to utilize opportunities, they get more stressed and make more mistakes. Performing at the highest capacity can be very challenging, especially if you’re getting mauled.

However, a well-placed hit can turn definitely turn a fight around – think Derrick Lewis Vs. Alexander Volkov (UFC 229).

What Moves Are Illegal In The UFC?

One fighter striking another in the back of the head

Headbutting, eye-gouging, biting, hair pulling, fish-hooking, and groin attacks are some of the many moves that are illegal in the UFC. Fouls may result in point deduction at the discretion of the scorekeeper or disqualification at the referee’s discretion.

Here’s a full list of moves that are illegal in the UFC:

  • Biting
  • Clawing
  • Downward-pointing elbow strike
  • Eye gouging 
  • Eye poking
  • Fish hooking
  • Groin attacks
  • Hair pulling
  • Headbutting
  • Kick/knee to the head (when the opponent is grounded)
  • Pile driving
  • Pinching or twisting the flesh
  • Placing fingers in opponent’s body cavities, orifices, or lacerations
  • Small joint manipulation
  • Spine strikes
  • Spitting
  • Stomping (when the opponent is grounded) 
  • Strikes to the back of the head
  • Throat strikes and grabs
  • Throwing opponent outside the arena

The Unified Rules of MMA define a range of other fouls that can lead to point deduction or disqualification. Timidity, unsportsmanlike conduct, attacking opponents during the break, and fence-grabbing are some fouls you may recognize. 

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It’s important to remember that only the referee can assess fouls. Judges cannot make assessments and factor them in when calculating scores.

To go through the full list of rules, refer to the official list by the Association of Boxing Commissions

Is Pinching Illegal In The UFC?

The Unified Rules of MMA declared by the Association of Boxing Commissions specifies that any attack that targets the fighter’s skin to cause pain is illegal. Therefore, UFC fighters cannot claw, pinch, pull, or twist their opponent’s skin.

If you’re like me, you’re probably curious why pinching is illegal in MMA. It’s not hard to find forum threads with users discussing theories. However, finding a sensible answer can prove challenging.

UFC fans online think pinching can be a great way to get out of a chokehold. Some also believe that pinching helps manipulate the opponent’s arms. But the thing about these opinions is they don’t make sense.

A professional fighter won’t release a choke because of a pinch. Fighters are tough, and a lot of them don’t tap out even their opponent twists their arm and snaps it. If the opponent were to try and pinch their way out of a sub, they’d likely get cranked harder. 

Also, with all of the adrenaline pumping through the fighters in the ring, chances are, they won’t even feel the pinches. 

This makes a convincing case for making pinching legal in the UFC. But from what I’ve gathered, it seems like the most reasonable answer to pinching is illegal is that it is just plain annoying.

And if it were up to me, I’d keep pinching illegal.

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