What is the MMA belt system?

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MMA (Mixed martial arts) is a combat sport which incorporates  the skills and techniques from many martial arts practiced across the world. Some of the martial arts whose skills and techniques are used in MMA generally have a belt grading system. The most popular martial arts that use the belt ranking system are: BJJ Karate, Judo, Taekwondo,  Aikido, Kung Fu. Today we shall discuss the MMA belt system.

No belt system in MMA:

There are no belt levels in MMA to indicate ranking system. However, some martial arts clubs do have their own belt system for MMA fighters to honour them. But it is not a recognised standard by any martial arts organisation including UFC. There are other martial arts besides MMA that do not have any formal coloured belt systems including Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Krav Maga, MCMAP, Tai Chi, Systema, Wing Chun. However, MMA does have championship belts for fighters in competitions, which are in different weight classes. For example a heavyweight or lightweight championship belt. These championship belts are absolutely different to grading belts.

Belt system concept:

It is a grading system to indicate progress for a martial arts student. The coloured belt system was first introduced by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Martial arts belts consist of 9 belt colours: white belt, yellow belt, orange belt, green belt, blue belt, purple belt, black belt, and red belt. The number and order of martial art belts can vary depending on specific martial arts. Usually, the black belt is considered the highest belt in martial arts. But, in a few martial arts including Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Karate, the red belt is reserved for exemplary masters of the art and is considered above the black belt. By the early 1900s, the idea of belt systems had spread throughout many martial arts schools around the world. Today, many martial arts practices incorporate some form of coloured belts ranking system to track students’ progress. Still, there is not a universal standard governing body on how martial arts Progressive  belt colours are to be defined. Each type of martial arts follows its own rules, explanations, and traditions and there are at times variations within the same type. Most noteworthy is the  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt system which is far stricter than in most other martial arts. It can take more than 10 years to achieve the black belt.

Different kind of MMA Belts:

MMA doesn’t have a black belt either. But there are championship belts like a trophy you need to fight for to defend or to win.  Mixed Martial Arts do have championship belts, though, for fighters in competitions, which are in different weight classes. For example a heavyweight or lightweight championship belt. According to UFC president Dana White stated in a press release there are currently 12 title belts in circulation. One for each weight class the UFC holds fights in eight men’s and four women’s divisions. Experts believe that MMA has only been going for over 30 years, so there is still plenty of room for improvement. An MMA grading system could be another way in the future to make the sport even better.


Since competitors fall into two groups, Amateurs and Professionals, there could not be an MMA belt system. Of course, there must be belts worn round the waist highly regarded as trophies to have defended or won a title match. These are different kinds of belts from those awarded by other martial arts.

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