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26th Dec 2016

Here’s why UFC fighters are required to trim their beards

Emil Meek was forced to shave before UFC 206.

Tom Victor

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has a number of interesting rules and regulations, but its approach to facial hair certainly stands out.

You may remember Norwegian UFC debutant Emil Meek being required to shave off his beard ahead of his decision victory over Jordan Mein in Canada earlier this year.

There had been suggestions that the rule regarding beard length was a carry-over from times when the UFC took its cue from boxing regulations, MMA Fighting reports.

That approach, according to the publication, was initially intended to allow referees to better see injuries sustained which might otherwise be hidden beneath a dense beard.

However, the publication notes that this is not the reason given to Meek before his UFC 206 bow.

“They told me I needed to trim it down to a length where it couldn’t be grabbed,” Meek is quoted as saying, and this scenario is one which senior UFC referee John McCarthy seems to see some sense in.

However, McCarthy notes that hair-pulling is already outlawed, so a specific carve-out for facial hair seems somewhat strange.

Either way, it seems we have New Jersey to thank for the rule existing, with a reference to shaving included in the official rules when the time came to sanction professional MMA way back when.

And some confusion remains, or at the very least some leeway between the rules applied by different states and sanctioning bodies.

If there is a hard-and-fast rule about beard and moustache length, it doesn’t seem to have been rigorously applied across the board.


Emil Meek,UFC