While watching UFC fights and seeing the combatants wrestling around on the floor, you might have thought, “if he just tickled him right now, he’d have the advantage!”. And you could be right.
So can you tickle in UFC and MMA fights? Here’s the short answer:
There aren’t any rules to stop fighters from tickling in the UFC or MMA. But it would be considered a frowned upon thing to do when trying to beat your opponent. The fanbase and promotions could quickly turn against a fighter that didn’t fight fairly.
But there are many illegal moves in the UFC which prohibit strikes or techniques that could be dangerous or not create a fair fighting environment.
Keep reading to learn more about these tickling rules in the UFC.
Can You Tickle Your Opponent In UFC Fights?
You can’t tickle your opponent in UFC fights because it would create an unfair distraction for the opponent. While there aren’t any actual rules against it, it would likely be disliked by the entire MMA community, which is terrible for earning new fights.
It’s possible that tickling could fall under unsportsmanlike conduct if they were to use tickling so that they clearly gained an advantage or frustrated their opponent.
Tickling during a fight would not go down well with the opponent, the referee, the fans, or even the judges and fight promotion itself.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct In The UFC
Unsportsmanlike conduct can lead to disqualifications. But it’s reserved for when a fighter keeps trying to hit their opponent even after they’re knocked out or the referee has called a stoppage.
Generally speaking, tickling is also likely to be ineffective at actually affecting the opponent and instead leave yourself open to being countered somehow.
During a UFC fight, the fighters are often incredibly sweaty and full of adrenaline.
The sweat will create a barrier that makes tickling ineffective (as tickling works best on dry skin). The fighter’s adrenaline makes them almost numb to mild effects like tickling, chaffing, or itching until the fight is over.
History Of Tickling In The UFC
I took a look around and did some research to see if there were any situations where tickling was used in the UFC.
Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any examples of fighters actually using tickling during a fight. But there are a few fun suggestions for using tickling in the media around the UFC. Let’s take a look.
Recently, Tom Aspinall joked about tickling Alexander Volkov as part of his game plan to beat him:
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Of course, Tom didn’t actually use tickling to beat Volkov. Instead, he defeated him using clinical striking, solid ground-n-pound, and finishing with an arm lock.
While on a fight show for The Ultimate Fighter, Miesha Tate was seen struggling to hold a mouthful of snacks while the presenters laughed and tickled her:
Occasionally jokes are also thrown around about one of the “worst UFC fights ever” between CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson.
Many fans refer to it as lethal as a tickling contest because not much happens except for grabbing onto each other with very little skill:
Is Tickling Against The Rules In UFC?
There aren’t any rules in the UFC or the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts that detail whether tickling is allowed or not. As it’s likely to be something rare, they don’t consider it necessary to implement a rule for it.
Suppose someday a fighter starts tickling opponents (likely creating distaste from the entire fanbase) and taking advantage of them. In that case, we could see a rule specified for it. But both of those things happening is probably very unlikely.
If you want to learn more about the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts and its use for scoring, check out my other article, How Is UFC Scored?
Is Tickling Allowed In Other MMA Promotions?
Most MMA promotions all follow the same Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts just like the UFC, sometimes with a few variations. But just like the UFC, MMA promotions like ONE Championship or Bellator don’t have any rules to prohibit tickling.
Tickling just seems to be extremely rare, so there isn’t any need to create a rule for it. Yet.
Now you know whether you can tickle in the UFC. The summary is that, no, you probably shouldn’t tickle if you are a UFC fighter because it would be bad for your image. But there aren’t any actual rules that prohibit it, and it isn’t on the illegal moves list, either.
Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.