How Many Rounds Are In A UFC Bout? Understanding Fight Durations And Rules

Dustin Poirier Steroids


UFC bouts typically last three rounds but championship fights have two extra rounds.

Since launching more than 30 years ago, UFC has evolved somewhat, with updated rules and formats suitable for the modern fighter and audience. Back then, the bouts had unlimited five-minute rounds with a one-minute break after every round. The fights could only end via knockout, submission, or corner stoppage.

At UFC 2, the rules were changed; the fights had no time limit and continued until a fighter got knocked out, submitted, or his corner threw in the proverbial towel.

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In 1996, the UFC moved away from the ‘no holds barred’ fighting style and started to adopt the three and five-round bouts. This was done not only to protect the fighters’ health but also to standardise the length of the bouts and create a more viewer-friendly format. 

Conor McGregor’s last two bouts against Dustin Poirier were main events but not for a championship. The UFC 196 and UFC 202 bouts between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz also weren’t title fights but because they were the headliners of their respective shows, they were fought over five rounds. So was the UFC 272 showdown between former friends Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.

Nate Diaz versus Jorge Masvidal for the BMF title at UFC 244 was also a five-round non-championship bout. Anderson Silva vs Nick Diaz at UFC 181 was similarly a five-round non-title bout. Going back further in the fight library, Matt Hughes versus Royce Gracie at UFC 60 was also fought over five rounds.

Currently, the format has remained the same with regular bouts having three five-minute rounds and championship fights having five five-minute rounds.

Every fight will have three judges scoring the fight in case both fighters remain standing after the three or five-round fight. Judges will score rounds on a 10-point must system like boxing. Scoring is based on effective striking, effective grappling, effective aggressiveness, and Octagon control.