How Long Do MMA Fights Last? (UFC Rules Explained)

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If you’re looking to find out exactly how long fights last in MMA, including per round, per fight, and per event then this article will answer it all for you in detail.

But how long do MMA fights last usually? Here’s the short answer:

An MMA fight lasts for either 15 minutes in a three-round fight or 25 minutes in a five-round championship or main fight. With the 1-minute breaks between rounds, the total fight time on the TV can be either 19 minutes, or 29 minutes, total.

If you’re ready to dive into the details and see some fascinating data points like average round times, keep reading.

How Long MMA Rounds Last For

The rounds in an MMA fight are set to last for 5 minutes each. Each round could be cut short by the referee if a winner is declared from knockout, technical knockout, or submission. Each MMA round can also last longer if a fighter is given a timeout.

A timeout is only usually given when there’s an accidental eye poke or groin hit. If either of these happens then the suffering fighter can get up to 5 minutes extra time to recover.

Most of the time, fighters rarely use the full 5 minutes of recovery time that they can get. Even though they might need time to recover themselves, they don’t want to give their opponent the extra time to recover as well.

Even though fighters wear cups during an MMA fight, it’s still pretty common to feel the pain in an accidental groin hit.

Let’s consider an actual UFC event, UFC 269, and look at the round times of the entire card:

FightRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Rounds Average
Charles Oliveira (W) vs. Dustin Poirier5:005:001:023:40
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena (W)5:003:264:13
Geoff Neal (W) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio5:005:005:005:00
Kai Kara France (W) vs. Cody Garbrandt3:213:21
Raulian Paiva vs. Sean O’Malley (W)4:424:42
Josh Emmet (W) vs. Dan Ige5:005:005:005:00
Pedro Munhoz vs. Dominick Cruz (W)5:005:005:005:00
Augusto vs. Tai Tuivasa (W)5:000:262:43
Jordan Wright vs. Bruno Silva (W)1:281:28
Andre Muniz (W) vs. Eryk Anders3:133:13
Miranda Maverick vs. Erin Blanchfield (W)5:005:005:005:00
Ryan Hall (W) vs. Darrick Minner5:005:005:005:00
Randy Costa vs. Tony Kelley (W)5:004:154:37
Gillian Robertson (W) vs. Priscila Cachoeira4:594:59

When looking at the data, it’s obvious to see that the average duration of a round depends on how long the match went on, which in turn is reliant on the winning method. But the average of rounds is between 3-5 minutes.

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Most rounds go towards the end of its limit than they do early, as early-round knockouts or submissions are less common.

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How Many Rounds In An MMA Fight?

In an MMA fight, there can be either a total of 3 rounds lasting 5 minutes each for a standard card fight or a total of 5 rounds lasting 5 minutes each for an event’s main fight such as a title or championship bout.

How Long MMA Fights Last

An MMA fight is scheduled to last for either 19 minutes or 29 minutes, including breaks between rounds, depending on whether the fight is a regular matchup or the main fight on the events’ fight card. The duration could get longer if the referee calls any timeouts.

But let’s look at an actual example of a recent UFC event, UFC 269. The table below shows the actual total fight times of each fight of the main card:

FightRoundsTotal Fight TimeMethod
Charles Oliveira (W) vs. Dustin Poirier311:02Submission
Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena (W)28:26Submission
Geoff Neal (W) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio315:00Decision
Kai Kara France (W) vs. Cody Garbrandt13:21KO/TKO
Raulian Paiva vs. Sean O’Malley (W)14:42KO/TKO
Total: 42:31
Average: 08:30

As you can see, the actual fight time varies a lot. As it all depends on what’s happening in each fight, as they all have very unique events and winning methods which change things up quite a lot.

From this same data, you can estimate that each fight lasted about 8 and a half minutes on average. But some fights can last just seconds, and others can go the whole distance of a five-rounder (of 5 minutes each) and total up to 25 minutes fight-time.

How Long Do UFC Fights Last On TV?

The main card of a UFC event usually lasts about 3 hours on TV. If the event has several fights which use up all their rounds then the entire event could be 6 hours long. If you include early prelims and prelims, then it could reach 9 hours long total.

How Long MMA Events Last

An entire MMA event lasts anywhere for between 3 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the event. The main card at the UFC is typically 2 hours of fight time and up to 3 hours including all commentary and breaks. Preliminary fights can add an extra 2-3 hours.

Here’s a breakdown of a usual full card at the UFC and how long it could potentially run for including breaks between rounds:

CardFightFight DurationRounds
Main CardMain/Title Fight29:005
Main CardFight 119:003
Main CardFight 219:003
Main CardFight 319:003
Main CardFight 419:003
PrelimsPrelim Fight 119:003
PrelimsPrelim Fight 219:003
PrelimsPrelim Fight 319:003
PrelimsPrelim Fight 419:003
Early PrelimsEarly Prelim Fight 119:003
Early PrelimsEarly Prelim Fight 219:003
Early PrelimsEarly Prelim Fight 319:003
Early PrelimsEarly Prelim Fight 419:003
Early PrelimsEarly Prelim Fight 519:003
Total: 04:36:00

As you can see, if all of the fights (including their rests between rounds) went to their maximum rounds limits then it adds up to over 4 and a half hours of fight time alone. Then you add on the rest of the event media and advertisements, and it’s quite easy to imagine a whole 6-hour event.

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The above gives you an idea of how much (potential) time is spent on the fights themselves, as these include all the rounds and breaks between them. But it doesn’t include the amount of time the events spend on the introduction, build-up, commentary, interviews, and of course advertisements.

So there you have it. MMA fights typically average about 8 and a half minutes each, with the main card lasting just over 40 minutes and an average round going 3-5 minutes. Now you know how long an MMA fight lasts!

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