What does “no contest” mean in MMA?

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The “No contest” decision in MMA means none of the fighters are declared winners or losers. The match is not even a draw. The fight has become null and void due to unintentional accidental situations, unauthorized involvement, or illegal substance uses. Today we shall discuss “no contest” in MMA fights.

"No contest" in MMA:

A “no contest” decision in MMA, especially under UFC regulations, ensures the fight is fair. Besides “no-contest”, there are other outcomes in a UFC bout. Some of the outcomes are a clear winner, a draw, or disqualification. Common fight outcomes come out of submission, a knockout, and technical knockout. A “no-contest” decision signals the end of the match, and the bout will not continue. A “no-contest” decision in an MMA fight can be declared if one or both fighters are injured accidentally or by an unintentional illegal action. Also, interference in the fight from the referee or another non-combatant and a fighter’s dishonest action or illegal drug use can cause a No Contest decision. In this situation, when a fight is stopped neither fighter is the winner or loser.  

This does not mean the fight is a draw, rather the fight is declared null and void. We might have possibly known the difference between a “draw” and “no contest”. A draw is where the fight continues to the end of the allotted time, and there is no clear winner since the fighters were evenly matched and thereby the match is declared a draw.  While a “no contest” fight is stopped before its completion due to unavoidable situations.

Clarification of "no contest" in MMA:

” No contest” is not only declared during the fight but also the decision can come after the match to overturn the original outcome. If a fighter or both used illegal drugs, the basic rules would be violated. Because the drug boosts certain power for a certain period. So the fighter who takes drugs enjoys an undue advantage over his opponent. One of the most memorable fights was held between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz in 2015. While Silva won the fight by unanimous decision, the result was overturned to no contest when it was found that Silva tested positive for two drugs, while Diaz tested positive for marijuana. In MMA, the fight combines striking, grappling, and ground fighting. During the fight, unfair actions often happen between the fighters which heavily depends on the judge’s discretion to decide whether it is “no contest” or just ignored to carry on fighting.  However, If a fighter accidentally delivers an illegal blow, which makes the opponent unable to continue the fight, the fight will be called a “no contest”.  The bout ends instantly. The decision against the illegal blow is very crucial.  Generally, if the illegal blow is deemed to be intentional, the offending fighter will be disqualified, and the other fighter declared the winner despite his performance being weaker. 

An illustrious example of “no contest” happened when Rob Emerson and Gary Maynard injured each other. In the 2007 bout, Maynard slammed Emerson to the canvas with a body slam when Maynard’s head hit the canvas, resulting in temporary unconsciousness. There are other circumstantial reasons and unexpected situations like unruly spectators, the ring-related issues that threaten a fair fight environment the match is usually declared “no contest” i.e. no more fight in these hostile situations. Beyond those visible reasons, other invisible unethical reasons overturn the results of the matches. Like Match-Fixing often for financial gain and other immoral reasons.


“No contest” in MMA is an undesirable situational decision. It happens mostly because of unruly acts of reason, mostly under the influence of performance-enhancing illegal drugs. If the blow is not illegal the skilled fighter has the right to finish the competition as soon as possible to win the match. A knockout win is a credit. On the other hand, if unintentionally illegal accidental things happen and a fighter becomes unable to continue fighting the match will be declared “no contest”. As if, the fight has not been fought.

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