While being a pretty rare occurrence in the UFC, no contests do happen from time to time.
They’re frustrating for the fans, the fighters, and the organization as a whole.
But, what is a no-contest in the UFC and MMA?
That’s exactly what we’re going to be taking a look at in this article.
Let’s get to it.
What is a No Contest in UFC?
While many people see MMA as a brutish sport, there are a significant amount of rules put in place to keep both fighters as safe as possible.
Breaking these rules has various consequences, from a stern warning from the referee to disqualification from the bout. This is where a no contest comes in, as it’s a result of someone doing something, or something happening, that deems the result of the fight void.
A no-contest means that neither fighter wins, or loses, nor is it a draw. There is essentially no result to the fight. If a fighter is part of a no contest fight, they will have this on their record. For example, a fighter with a record of 10-1-1 (NC), has won 10 fights, lost 1, and had 1 no contest.
So, how does a no-contest happen in the UFC?
There are a number of ways that a no-contest can occur:
- An accidental injury where a fighter cannot continue. This most commonly occurs when a fighter is accidentally poked in the eye. If they are unable to see, and therefore can’t continue the fight, the result can be a no contest.
- Failed drug test after the match. If the winner of a match later fails a drug test (one they took before the fight), the victory will be overturned to a no contest.
- Double knock out. Although extremely rare, a double knock is when both fighters simultaneously land a strike that knocks out the other person.
- An external factor that forces the fight to be stopped. For example, if the building was to lose power and the lights were not able to be turned back on.
There are a couple of caveats that come with no contests.
Firstly, a lot of this is down to the referee’s discretion. For example, if the referee decided that the rule infraction was not entirely accidental, they can decide that fighter is disqualified, therefore forfeiting the fight.
Another crucial caveat, stated in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts is when an infraction or other unforeseen event takes place.
The rules state:
“If an accidental foul causes an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the bout, the bout will result in either a NO CONTEST or DISQUALIFICATION if stopped before ½ of the scheduled rounds, plus one (1) second of the fight has been completed.”
“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 score cards at the time the bout is stopped. i. Partial or incomplete rounds will be scored. If no action has occurred, the round should be scored as an even round. This is at the discretion of the judges”
Let’s use the eye poke example again to explain what this means. If a fighter is accidentally poked in the eye, to the extent that they can’t continue before the halfway point, the bout is a no contest or disqualification. Whether it is a no contest or disqualification is down to the referee.
If the eye poke happens after the halfway point, the result will be a technical decision, going to whoever was ahead on the scorecard at that point in time.
No Contest VS Disqualification
While I briefly touched upon this above, it’s worth clarifying the difference between a no contest and disqualification in MMA.
Unlike a no contest, where there is no winner, the fighter who is disqualified loses the fight. This can be for a variety of reasons, but I see DQs happen when a fighter throws a knee to a grounded opponent.
There are a good amount of rules that can result in a DQ, so for a full breakdown I’d recommend checking out our beginner’s guide to MMA.
No Content VS Draw
A draw in MMA is when there is no winner or loser, with both fighters being awarded a draw, and are very rare. This is due to the fact that fights are fought over an odd amount of rounds, so realistically a fighter will win more rounds than the other, it’s rarely the same amount.
A draw can only happen when the fight goes the distance and the result goes to the judge’s decision. If the judges score certain rounds as a draw, then it is possible that neither fight will have won more rounds than the other.
Let’s take a 3-round fight as an example. I’ve put together a hypothetical, and highly unlikely scorecard that would result in a draw.
As you can see, Fighter A won 4 rounds and Fighter B won 4 rounds. Thanks to Judge 1 scoring round 2 a draw, the entire fight is now deemed a draw. This is a much simplified example, as judges score round by points, but the idea is the same.
While similar to a no contest in that there was no winner or loser, the result will be listed as a draw, as opposed to a no contest, on each fighter’s record.
No Contest VS No Decision
No contest and no decision is essetially the same thing. The term “no decision” is pretty outdated, but used to be used in boxing to declare the fight has no result.
UFC No Contest Examples
Example 1: Sean O’Malley Vs Pedro Munhoz – Eye Poke
At UFC 276 in July 2020, Sean O’Malley faced Pedro Munhoz. At the time, this was touted to be a significant test of O’Malley’s skills, to see whether he had what it takes to be at the top of a stacked Bantamweight division.
The fight had already started in a less-than-ideal way, with O’Malley landing a front kick to the groin of Munhoz. That said, O’Malley turned up the pace and was starting to land some good shots in the second, until an accidental eye poke saw the fight ending prematurely.
Example 2: Jon Jones Vs Daniel Cormier 2 – Failed Drug Test
The rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier is legendary, and will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest rivalries in the sport.
With so much bad blood between two insanely talented fighters, the hype was on for UFC 214. The fight lived up to the hype, with a close first two rounds before Jones closed the show with a stunning high kick, which he swiftly followed with a barrage of strikes.
In the following weeks after, it came to light that Jones failed a USADA drug test that he had taken before the match. This resulted in Jones not only being suspended from the sport, but the Light Heavyweight title returning to Daniel Cormier.
In Dana White’s words “If it’s a no-contest, then the fight didn’t happen”.
Example 3: Greg Hardy Vs Ben Sosoli – Inhaler Usage
Back in October 2019, we saw a pretty interesting no contest, as I don’t think it’s ever happened before, or since.
While it’s safe to say I am not a big Greg Hardy fan (few people are), to his credit, he did dominate the fight, scoring himself a unanimous decision.
This decision, however, was soon overturned. This is due to the fact that Hardy used his inhaler between the second and third rounds, something that is most definitely against the rules. The end result for Hardy was a no contest, and following a handful of fights, his departure from the UFC.
Example 4: Eddie Alvarez Vs Dustin Poirier – Illegal Knee
Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier are both incredibly exciting fighters to watch, and this was set to be a classic fight in the making. UFC 211 saw Alvarez and Poirier closing out the prelims.
The fight started as expected, a surefire fight of the year contender, should it have gone the distance. Unfortunately, towards the end of the second round, Alvarez landed knees to the head of Porier whilst he was on the ground.
To be fair to Alvarez, he’d been rocked multiple times already and had a significant amount of blood pouring into his eye. He can’t have been all that with it, which is likely why Herb Dean decided this was a no contest, and not a DQ.
Example 5: Anderson Silva Vs Nick Diaz – Failed Drug Tests
Back at UFC 183, fans were more than pleased to see fan favorite Nick Diaz, pitted against one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva.
The fight was a good one, with all the showboating and wackiness that you can expect from these two fighters. The fight went the distance, with Silva doing enough to take home a unanimous decision.
As we’ve seen before, it wasn’t too long before this decision was overturned. 3 days after the fact, it was announced that both fighters had failed drug tests leading up to the fight. Silva failed due to testing positive for two banned performance-enhancing drugs. Whilst Diaz on the other hand, predictably tested positive for marijuana.
What Happens to Bets on a No Contest MMA Fight?
Most betting companies will offer refunds on bets placed on fights that result in a no contest. The only exception to this is if there’s a betting line on a no contest itself, which is rare.
The only exception to this is if the no contest happens after the fact, for example, a failed drug test comes to light 2 weeks later. Whether you’ve won or lost your bet, it will remain in place.
Do UFC Fighters Get Paid for No Contest Fights?
Yes, fighters do get paid for no contest fights. At the end of the day, most no contest results are purely accidents. It’s just part of the business.
There we have it.
Hopefully, now you’ve got a good understanding of what a no contest is in the UFC and MMA.
Fingers crossed we won’t be seeing many, as they make for a pretty anti-climatic watch, but it’s good to have an understanding of what’s going on when they do happen.
As always, thanks for stopping by.