The MMA industry is a risky business to get into. To ensure the fighters’ safety, certain materials are used to reinforce the cage floor.
Perhaps, you’ve watched UFC fights and asked yourself, what is the UFC octagon floor material used to build it?
*The UFC octagon floor is topped with a canvas made with heavy cotton. Below is a plywood sheet covered with a thin foam padding to separate it from the canvas. The bottom-most layer is a metal frame to support everything. These materials make the floor not too soft and hard. *
To have a more in-depth understanding of everything there is to know about the octagon floor, like what they do with the soiled ones, keep reading!
An MMA canvas is made out of heavy cotton. This is a heavy-duty type of cotton made to hold out against body-slamming and falling.
This canvas is now tightly wrapped together with the other layers of foam, plywood and metal platform below it. This is to keep everything in one place despite the movements of the fighters on the surface.
Unlike WWE wrestling, the MMA canvas is much thinner in width; because the volume of heavy body slams is much lower in MMA compared to professional wrestling. What’s often seen in an MMA match are takedowns, body pins, and knockdowns, which give out a lesser impact on the floor.
This type of cotton is also chosen to be able to withstand the entire fight night with different weight classes setting foot on the cage.
Heavy cotton is good in absorbing some of the bodily fluids of the fighters. It is also the most suitable garment that absorbs paint for different brand sponsorship logos.
If regular cotton is used, there’s a chance that the canvas will rip due to the immense amount of weight pressing on it each bout. This may cause injuries and fight delays.
The UFC octagon floor is not that hard yet not too soft to deform when weight is applied. The only thing that provides softness to the floor is the heavy cotton canvas on the surface and the foam padding right below it.
You can imagine the UFC octagon as a BJJ mat with a bit more foam and padding in it.
Despite being an “OK” floor when it comes to its hardness, a fairly powerful head-first-slam can still cause a brutal knockout. But on the brighter side, the floor’s firmness allows fighters to manoeuvre properly during the fight.
In the UFC, MMA fighters fight barefoot. If the floor is too hard, it is not comfortable to bounce and manoeuvre around the cage, especially for a 25-minute fight.
One bad side of a “too hard” octagon floor is the possibility that a simple take down might break a bone. This unwanted injury may cause the fighter’s entire career to end.
Now, if the floor is too soft, the fighters’ feet might get submerged into the canvas every step. With this, they can no longer perform certain foot works and attacks.
Below the UFC floor canvas is a thick foam layer that aims to absorb more impact and pressure during a fight. However, its padding is not that thick compared to Boxing and Wrestling rings.
Every fight can get the floor soiled; these fluids have a high chance of staining the octagon floor, especially when the battle continues on the ground. That’s why after one bout, UFC staff will clean it before the next match begins.
Cleaning the cage floor after the fight is extremely important. Having blood, sweat and saliva may result in the next fighter slipping which may cause them to lose the entire fight.
A dirty mat after a long fight night is inevitable, and it needs to be thrown away. Of course, UFC is not allowed to reuse these mats on the next fight night because it’s not sanitary for other fighters to use it.
The entire floor mat of a regular octagon used in pay-per-view events is 30 feet wide. It is made out of thick heavy cotton.
With that big of a garment, no washing method or machine can handle it. Soaking it in water will make the mat multiply in weight, making it extremely difficult to wash and dry, so it is more practical to throw it away and replace it with a new one.
They use an octagon with a cage fence to prevent UFC fighters from falling out of the ring during the fight. Ring falling incidents are known in roped-rings such as in Boxing, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai.
Unlike any other combat sport, the UFC uses an 8-sided ring called the octagon. This specific ring also makes them stand out from other MMA promotions.
Sometimes, these falls might get disastrous for the fighter. It might look like the UFC chose an octagon cage as a ring to look cool, but in fact, it’s for their fighters’ pure safety.
The UFC has two distinct octagon sizes; one in UFC APEX and one on other bigger arena events like in MGM grand. They use a 25-foot octagon on the APEX because the facility is small. In bigger arenas, the UFC utilizes a 30-foot octagon.
As a matter of fact, in the early days of UFC, the octagon was much bigger than 30 feet. However, plenty of fight inactivity cases made the management decrease the cage size to promote more action and gain more sales.
As per the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts, cages can’t be smaller than 18×18 feet. They also can’t be larger than 32×32 feet:
“The fighting area canvas shall be no smaller than 18 feet by 18 feet and no larger than 32 feet by 32 feet. The fighting area canvas shall be padded in a manner as approved by the Commission, with at least one-inch layer of foam padding.
Padding shall extend beyond the fighting area and over the edge of the platform. No vinyl or other plastic rubberized covering shall be permitted.”
Unified Rules Of MMA, 2017
The biggest design flaw of a UFC octagon is its short cage wall. They could’ve added a taller fence extension in consideration for taller fighters, especially in the heavyweight division.
The taller fence is also needed to prevent any after-fight brawls inside the Octagon. The 6 feet fence can be easily climbed by anyone in less than 3 seconds.
A good example of an after-fight brawl inside the octagon was in UFC 229, McGregor Vs. Nurmagomedov. A taller fence could’ve delayed people climbing over.
Now that you know everything there is to know about the UFC octagon floor, now you might want to know exactly how UFC is scored!