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Confused about a ‘no contest’ decision in UFC? What you need to know

What does 'no contest' mean in UFC? A simple explanation

Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler facing off at a press event for UFC 262.

A no-contest decision in UFC can seem fairly confusing if you don’t know how things can play out. It basically means that neither of the fighters can be declared the winner, which may sound initially unfair. Like many rules in sports, it makes sense but only once you know the basics. We thought we’d help you out by providing some insight into what it means and how it affects the outcome. While a UFC bout can end via submission, technical knockout, knockout, forfeit, judges’ decision, and disqualification, no contest can also happen once in a while.

Effectively, no contest tends to happen due to reasons which are outside of at least one of the fighter’s control, to an extent. This can include an accidental illegal strike that results in an injury such as a mistaken eye poke which can force a competitor to withdraw from the fight. If that happens, neither fighter wins and the bout ends. However, if it is found that the illegal strike was intentional then the bout ends with a forfeit and a loss against the person who inflicted the injury.

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No contest can also be due to a fighter sustaining an injury in the middle of the fight due to an accidental foul. This decision is up to the referee who must decide on the severity of the injury at the time. The referee also plays a role in the case of double knockouts, ring issues, and third-party interventions in the bout, and can also be forced to rule the fight as a no contest in all these cases.

Other no contests may occur when the winner of a previously held bout is found to test positive in a drug test which is discovered after a bout ends.

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In very rare cases, a no contest can also be declared if the sports commission finds that match-fixing has occurred but generally, such allegations have been considered false and haven’t affected a match’s result.

What famous no contests have there been?

One of the most memorable was between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz in 2015. While Silva won the fight by unanimous decision, the result was overturned to no contest when it was found that he tested positive for two drugs, while Diaz tested positive for marijuana.

Another famous no contest occurred due to drugs in the case of the Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier rematch in 2017 with Jones testing positive for drugs and stripped of the UFC light heavyweight championship.

Other no-contests also include a fight between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier which ended when Alvarez landed illegal knee blows to Poirier’s head when he was down. A rematch a year later led to Poirier beating Alvarez via TKO.

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