How Many Rounds In UFC Fights? (A Full Analysis)

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If you’re new to watching MMA fights and are getting confused when the latest UFC event is on, then this article is here to simplify this common question for you!

In short, how many rounds in UFC?

A UFC fight typically has three rounds of five minutes each for regular matchups on the card. Fights that are a main or co-main event (like for a Championship bout) on the card last longer with five complete rounds of five minutes each. Timeouts could make rounds last longer.

I’ve done deeper research on this topic to tell you precisely what you can expect from a UFC event. While there are multiple rounds in a UFC fight, they can end very abruptly. Let’s look into the details!

How Many Rounds In UFC Fights Typically?

Two male fighters competing in the octagon

The number of rounds in a UFC fight is either three or five. Most fights are scheduled for three rounds, but the biggest fights on the card are usually scheduled for five rounds. The main (last shown) fight is often for a Championship belt or challenger spot.

Sometimes there can be the main fight on a card that isn’t necessarily for a belt or challenger spot. However, it will still be a five-round fight because it’s considered the card’s main event. This usually happens on the smaller but more regular UFC Fight Night events (unlike the numbered events, for example, UFC 271).

Fighters will desire these five-round fight opportunities, even if they’re not on the main UFC event because it will allow them to challenge their cardio and abilities in a whole five-round fight.

Some fighters call out publicly for these opportunities as they are often in a contender spot (usually ranked between the top 2-7 in a division) and want the right fights to prove their status as a contender for a title fight.

Even though there can be three rounds or five rounds scheduled for a fight, that doesn’t mean they will always reach that limit. Fights can end early from knockouts, technical knockouts, submissions, and even disqualifications.

Rounds On A Fight Card: UFC 271

Let’s take a look at the rounds from an actual UFC event, UFC 271, to get an idea of how many rounds there commonly is:

FightRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Winning Method
Main Event: Israel Adesanya (W) vs. Robert Whittaker5:005:005:005:005:00Decision
Tai Tuivasa (W) vs. Derrick Lewis5:001:40KO
Jared Cannonier (W) vs. Derek Brunson5:004:29KO
Renato Moicano (W) vs. Alexander Hernandez5:001:23Submission
Bobby Green (W) vs. Nasrat Haqparast5:005:005:00Decision
Andrei Arlovski (W) vs. Jared Vanderaa5:005:005:00Decision
Casey O’Neill (W) vs. Roxanne Modafferi5:005:005:00Decision
Kyler Phillips (W) vs. Marcelo Rojo5:001:48Submission
Carlos Ulberg (W) vs. Fabio Cherant5:005:005:00Decision
Ronnie Lawrence (W) vs. Leomana Martinez5:005:005:00Decision
Jacob Malkoun (W) vs. A.J. Dobson5:005:005:00Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (W) vs. Sergey Morozov5:003:24Submission
Jeremiah Wells (W) vs. Mike Mathetha4:38Submission
Maxim Grishin (W) vs. William Knight5:005:005:00Decision

The main event fight for UFC 271 went to its total capacity of five rounds. With five complete rounds to compete in, it’s relatively common for the fighters to be more cautious. They also have to manage their cardio to fight for so long. They could use that full 25 minutes to win the judges’ vote by earning more points during the battle.

Most fights went to the decision on this card after three five-minute rounds. Close behind that was finishes mainly in the second round, including submissions and KOs. Fights ending in the first round is uncommon, with only one on this card. Jeremiah Wells submitted Mike Mathetha at 4:38 in the first round.

Are UFC Fights 3 Or 5 Rounds?

UFC fights can be both three or five rounds depending on the fight. Main and co-main event fights are scheduled for five rounds whereas regular fights are scheduled for three rounds. Five-round fights usually occur in fights for Championship belts.

How Long Are UFC Rounds?

Two female fighters competing in the octagon

The rounds in a UFC fight are set to last for five minutes each. Each UFC round can also last longer if a fighter is given a timeout. The referee could cut each round if a winner is declared from knockout, technical knockout, or submission.

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

Most of the time, fighters rarely use the full five 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.

Round Time Averages On A Fight Card: UFC 269

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

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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

This card had two main events, Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier for the Lightweight Championship belt and Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship belt.

Even with the main event and a co-main event scheduled for the complete five five-minute rounds, neither of them went past the third round. It’s pretty common as getting five complete five-minute rounds of brutality is a rare delight.

When looking at the data, it’s evident that the average duration of a round depends on how long the match went on, which relies on the winning method. But the average time of rounds is between 3-5 minutes.

Most rounds reach their total time limit, especially the first round. When a fight gets into the third round, it’s most common for the fight to complete all three rounds (in a regular three-round fight), which is most likely because it shows that the fighters are more evenly matched.

A TKO or KO becomes less likely as the fight goes on and the fighters’ energy levels deplete.

MMA fights can be very varied, so the actual number of rounds and length of those rounds can change. Usually, this happens because of knockouts, submissions, or stoppages but can occasionally come from other methods, too.

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