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  • Writer's pictureDarren Cress

Understanding the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

PGC Rules and Official Guidelines

The Unified Rules of Submission Grappling (Sub Only) have played a crucial role in the evolution and regulation of the sport since its inception.

Established in 2014 by Eddie Bravo and later adopted by various athletic commissions, the Unified Rules were designed to provide a standardized set of guidelines to ensure fighter safety and fair competition. This comprehensive document encompasses weight classes, judging criteria, fouls, equipment requirements, and more, creating a clear framework for Submission Only events worldwide.

A packed room awaits the start a jiu jitsu event.

This article aims to provide a detailed overview of the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling, explaining their significance and shedding light on the key aspects that govern the sport, helping fight fans to better understand PGC rules and regulations.

Table of Contents

The Origins of the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling

In the early days of Jiu Jitsu, the sport was a wild, untamed frontier. “No holds barred” was the order of the day, with few if any rules and regulations to guide the chaotic action. However, as the UFC’s popularity skyrocketed, so too did the need for a consistent, standardized set of rules for Submission Grappling as a sport.

The Unified Rules of Submission Grappling were born out of a collaborative effort between key stakeholders, including regulators, promoters, and fighters. Over the years, these rules have evolved to better protect fighters and maintain the sport’s integrity.

PGC Weight Classes

PGC features multiple weight classes, ranging from flyweight to super heavyweight, to accommodate athletes of different sizes and ensure a level playing field. Each weight class has specific weight limits, and fighters must meet these limits during the official weigh-ins before their bouts.

The weight limits, as per the Unified Rules of MMA, are as follows:

  1. Strawweight: 119 lbs

  2. Flyweight: 129 lbs

  3. Bantamweight: 139 lbs

  4. Featherweight: 149 lbs

  5. Lightweight: 159 lbs

  6. Cruiserweight: 169 lbs

  7. Welterweight: 179 lbs

  8. Middleweight: 189 lbs

  9. Light Heavyweight: 205 lbs

  10. Heavyweight: 265 lbs

  11. Super Heavyweight: Over 265 lbs

Fighters typically do not undergo a weight-cutting process before the weigh-ins to meet their division’s limit. However, weight-cutting practices are allowed. Extreme weight-cutting practices that bring about concerns regarding fighter safety are not allowed.

PGC Judging and Scoring Criteria

PGC bouts are scored by a panel of three judges who evaluate each round based on effective submission attempts, takedowns & throws, sweeps, aggression, and positional control.

The 10-Point Must System is used, meaning the winner of each round receives ten points, while the loser gets nine or fewer points. In dominant rounds, the losing fighter may be awarded only eight or seven points.

Effective submission attempts refers to the impact of a legal attempted submission on the opponent. The fighter with more significant attempts will be valued higher.

Effective takedowns & throws can be defined as taking an opponent off their feet in a controlling and offensive manner. The attacker must maintain positional control for 2 full seconds after a takedown has been completed.

Slams are not permitted and are defined as malicious and intentionally driving one's opponent into the competition surface with force.

Jiu Jitsu takedown at a submission only event

Effective sweeps can be defined as an opponent on bottom gaining top position. For a sweep to be scored, a fighter must maintain the positional gain for 2 full seconds.

Effective aggression is defined as advancing position and/or attacking with submission attempts. The fighter initiating the action will be more highly valued. Judges prioritize effective submission attempts, takedowns & throws, sweeps, and positional control over aggression when scoring rounds.

Effective positional control refers to a fighter utilizing dominant position as a means of setting up attacks and submission attempts.

The PGC follows the Submission Only judging and scoring criteria outlined in the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling.

PGC Fouls and Penalties

The Unified Rules of Submission Grappling list 20 fouls that can result in penalties, point deductions, or disqualifications. Some common fouls include:

  • Eye-gouging or fish-hooking

  • Striking

  • Greasing

  • Small Joint manipulation (must grab 4 or more fingers or toes.)

  • Slams

  • Hair Pulling

  • Grabbing peripheral objects

  • Holding the opponent’s shorts or attire (unless in a Gi match)

  • Intentional fleeing the competition area

Referees have the authority to penalize fighters for committing fouls. A warning may be issued for minor infractions, while more severe or repeated fouls can result in point deductions or disqualification. The severity of the penalty depends on the referee’s discretion and the impact of the foul on the opponent.

Fighters must follow the exact fight rules outlined by the official.

A Guillotine choke attempt at a jiu jitsu event.

PGC Allowable and Non Allowable Techniques

The Unified Rules of Submission Grappling list the following techniques that are permitted and techniques that can result in penalties, point deductions, or disqualifications.

Allowable Techniques:

  • Arm Locks

  • Shoulder Locks

  • All Chokes / Strangles

  • Bicep / Calf Slicer

  • Reaping

  • Spine Locks / Twister

  • Wrist Lock

  • Neck Cranks

  • Knee Bar / Straight Ankle Lock

  • Scissor Takedown (Pros Only)

  • Jumping Guard (Pros Only)

  • Flying Submissions (Pros Only)

  • Z Lock / Hip Lock (Pros Only)

  • Toe Hold (Pros Only - MMA Pros may opt out)

  • Heel Hook (Pros Only - MMA Pros may opt out)

Non Allowable Techniques:

  • Slams

  • Striking

  • Gripping Opponent's attire in a Non-Gi Match

PGC Fight Duration and Rounds

Professional PGC bouts typically consist of one 7-minute round, with championship and main event fights having one 15-minute round.

Amateur PGC bouts may have different round durations and limits, depending on the card. These can range from one 5-minute round to one 15-minute round.

PGC Equipment and Attire

PGC fighters are required to wear specific equipment and attire to ensure their safety and fair competition. According to the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling, fighters must wear:

  • Approved shorts, spats, or gi pants, with no pockets or exposed zippers

  • Women must wear a sports bra or tight-fitting top

PGC Medical Checks and Requirements

During the event, a licensed physician will be present to provide immediate medical attention if necessary. After each bout, fighters may be subject to post-fight medical examinations to evaluate injuries and determine any potential medical suspensions.

An exhausted fighter celebrates a hard fought battle.


The Unified Rules of Submission Grappling provide a comprehensive framework for the sport, promoting fighter safety, fair competition, and consistency across events worldwide. Contrary to popular belief, PGC rules and regulations are outlined almost entirely by the Unified Rules of Submission Grappling.

By understanding the regulations governing weight classes, judging criteria, fouls, attire, and more, fans and fighters can better appreciate the complexities of the sport and the efforts made to ensure its continued growth and development. As PGC continues to evolve, so too will the rules and regulations, adapting to the changing landscape and demands of the sport.

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