why do mma stop ground game

why do mma stop ground game

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport that combines various martial arts disciplines, including striking and grappling techniques. One crucial aspect of MMA is the ground game, where fighters engage in grappling and submission holds on the mat. However, there are several reasons why MMA fights may stop the ground game and return to a standing position.

Injury Prevention

One of the primary reasons for stopping the ground game in MMA is to prevent injuries. When fighters are entangled on the ground, there is an increased risk of joint locks, chokes, and other submissions that can cause severe harm. By standing the fighters up, the referee can reduce the chances of serious injuries.

Furthermore, when fighters are on the ground, they are more susceptible to strikes to the back of the head, which is illegal in MMA. Stopping the ground game allows the referee to ensure that both fighters are in a position where strikes can be delivered legally.

Stalling and Lack of Action

Another reason for stopping the ground game is when fighters engage in stalling tactics, where they avoid taking any offensive actions or attempts to improve their position. Stalling can lead to a lack of action and an uneventful fight. By standing the fighters up, the referee encourages more active and exciting exchanges.

Additionally, if a fighter is unable to advance their position or execute effective strikes while on the ground, the referee may choose to stand the fighters up to maintain the pace and intensity of the fight.

Restarting the Action

why do mma stop ground game

Stopping the ground game and returning to a standing position can serve as a way to restart the action and provide a fresh opportunity for both fighters. It allows them to showcase their striking skills and potentially create more engaging exchanges for the audience.

Equal Opportunities

In some cases, the ground game may be stopped to ensure that both fighters have equal opportunities to display their skills. If one fighter is dominating the ground game and the other is unable to mount any offense or escape from a disadvantageous position, the referee may stand them up to give the disadvantaged fighter a chance to compete on their feet.

Encouraging Well-Rounded Fighters

By stopping the ground game, MMA also encourages fighters to develop well-rounded skills in both striking and grappling. If a fighter relies too heavily on their ground game and is consistently brought back to a standing position, they will be motivated to improve their striking abilities to avoid being at a disadvantage.

Avoiding Stalemates

In some cases, fighters may reach a stalemate on the ground, where neither can gain a significant advantage or advance their position. This can result in a lack of action and a less entertaining fight. Stopping the ground game and restarting the fight standing can prevent prolonged stalemates and keep the fight dynamic.

Strategy and Game Plan

Stopping the ground game can also be a strategic decision made by fighters or their coaches. If a fighter’s game plan revolves around their striking skills or they believe they have a significant advantage in stand-up exchanges, they may prefer to keep the fight standing and avoid engaging in the ground game.


While the ground game is an essential aspect of MMA, there are several reasons why fights may be stopped and returned to a standing position. Injury prevention, stalling tactics, restarting the action, ensuring equal opportunities, encouraging well-rounded fighters, avoiding stalemates, and strategic considerations all contribute to the decision to stop the ground game. Ultimately, these decisions aim to enhance the safety, excitement, and fairness of MMA fights.

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