why are downward elbows illegal in mma

why are downward elbows illegal in mma

Why are downward elbows illegal in MMA?

Downward elbows are a prohibited technique in mixed martial arts (MMA) for various reasons. This article will delve into the multiple aspects that contribute to their illegality.

1. Excessive damage potential

Downward elbows, when executed with full force, can cause severe damage to an opponent. The sharp point of the elbow can easily cut the skin, leading to deep lacerations and potential facial disfigurement.

Moreover, downward elbows can target vulnerable areas such as the temple, jaw, or orbital bone, which can result in concussions, fractures, or even permanent damage.

2. Difficulty in defense

Defending against downward elbows is challenging due to their quick and unpredictable nature. Unlike strikes thrown with a closed fist, elbows can be thrown from various angles, making it harder for opponents to anticipate and block them effectively.

Additionally, the proximity of the fighters during grappling exchanges increases the likelihood of downward elbows landing on the opponent’s head or face, exacerbating the difficulty in defense.

3. Enhanced risk of eye injuries

Downward elbows pose a significant risk to the eyes. The sharp edge of the elbow can penetrate the orbital socket, leading to severe eye injuries such as detached retinas, orbital fractures, or even permanent vision loss.

Considering the importance of preserving the long-term health and safety of fighters, the prohibition of downward elbows helps mitigate the risk of devastating eye injuries.

4. Promoting fair competition

why are downward elbows illegal in mma

The rules and regulations in MMA are designed to ensure fair competition. Allowing downward elbows could potentially create an unfair advantage for fighters with superior elbow-striking techniques.

By prohibiting downward elbows, the playing field is leveled, allowing fighters to rely on a broader range of skills and techniques, rather than relying heavily on a specific, potentially dangerous strike.

5. Preventing unnecessary stoppages

Permitting downward elbows could lead to an increased number of fights being stopped prematurely due to excessive bleeding or severe injuries caused by these strikes.

By eliminating downward elbows, MMA organizations can reduce the frequency of stoppages, allowing fights to continue for longer durations and providing a more engaging experience for both fighters and spectators.

6. Protecting the reputation of the sport

MMA has gained recognition as a legitimate sport over the years, and maintaining its reputation is crucial. Allowing downward elbows, which can result in gruesome injuries, may tarnish the image of the sport and discourage potential participants and fans.

By enforcing rules that prioritize fighter safety, MMA can continue to grow and be seen as a respected athletic endeavor.


The prohibition of downward elbows in MMA is rooted in a combination of factors. The potential for excessive damage, difficulty in defense, increased risk of eye injuries, fair competition, prevention of unnecessary stoppages, and protection of the sport’s reputation all contribute to the decision to outlaw this particular technique. By prioritizing fighter safety and promoting fair competition, MMA organizations aim to provide an entertaining and safe environment for fighters and spectators alike.

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