Copa America Submission Sport MMA Rules:


DESCRIPTION: Think of it as the equivalent of light contact version of MMA. A division were competitors can compete against each other utilizing most of the regular techniques associated with MMA including strikes, shoots, grappling and submissions. Only semi or light contact is allowed at all times at both stand up and ground positions. The main unique rule imposed is that of “best of three tap out�?. This rule was introduced to allow competitors to gain as much experience as possible’ especially at large tournaments where there is not enough time to include a “loser’s pool�? or round robin system.

Basically two competitors start from stand up position as is the case in semi & light contact, utilize their striking (stand up skills) to close the gap and create opportunity for a shoot or take down. Once on the ground the grappling comes into play together with semi/light contact striking. There are strict rules pertaining to Legal and illegal techniques in strikes, grappling/Jiu-jitsu and submissions. The ultimate will always be to obtain a submission over your opponent.


If fighter A obtains a submission over fighter B, it is recorded on the score sheet and the fight gets restarted from center stand up position. Fighter B must now obtain a submission over fighter A in order to level the field. Herein begins the chess game of SPORT MMA. Regardless of how good the rest of the fight is from fighter B, even if he is the superior technical competitor, gains more points for striking or outclasses fighter A for the duration of the bout, fighter A will win the match should fighter B not obtain a submission over fighter A. Two submissions over any fighter ends the bout immediately!

The final outcome of the fight is decided by (1) if there is a leader by submission (2) if there is no leader by submission the bout is decided by way of points in one of the following options;

  1. By show of hands of all officials according to whom they judged to be the superior fighter. (elaborated in rules later. 1 Chief referee and 1or 2 side judges are used at all times
  2. By way of utilizing score cards filled in by each official and handed to Chief referee or senior table official to tally the points and issue winners choice. ( this system comes from the SPORT FULL CONTACT MMA SYSTEM DESCRIBED LATER)

The objective of the competition obviously becomes the balance between defending your position to minimize submission, and the timing of your offence in order to create opportunities to submit your opponent. The game changes as the bout continues. If you are submitted, it becomes critical to re gain neutral position by submitting your opponent thereby being able to continue your plan of attack. Likewise if you gain submission first, you can concentrate more on defense, technique and ring craft to keep your opponent at bay utilizing your stand up striking skills but without “spoiling the fight�?. This way students have to become skilled at all levels and cannot rely only on one particular strength to win each bout. Just like the real thing but without the concussion and un-wanted facial alterations.

As a fight, it has all the requirements of a MMA bout but without the risk of serious injury. It does not guarantee no injury! It still remains very tough, challenging and extremely physical. Clashes will still occur by accident and blood might still be drawn without malicious intent. But by far, it becomes a division all sport orientated competitors would want to enter.

There is a demand for these divisions and as advocates for non full contact with juniors we feel that these divisions give everyone the opportunity to experience the thrill of MMA knowing it’s going to still be tough, that you still have to prepare as if going into a full contact fight but with the knowledge that your organization, instructors and officials have your safety and best interest at heart. More importantly, can you imagine the skill and experience obtained throughout your youth competing in these divisions in preparation for one day competing in MMA.



  • Combined foot & shin protectors only.(COPA approved)  
  • Gloves must be COPA approved open finger gloves  
  • Mouth guard and groin protector are mandatory.
  • Knee & elbow pads are not permitted. Neither is strapping of any king which can cause grip advantage.
  • MMA Shorts with draw string must be worn, (no pockets) no kickboxing pants. Competitors must wear a T-Shirt or rash guards when competing.
  • No “grease�? (Vaseline) is allowed to be applied to any part of the fighter.
  • No Jiu-Jitsu Gi, fighting/wrestling shoes are allowed.
  • HYGIENE RULE: All competitors must wear a clean competition uniform (shorts, shirt, etc.). If a referee feels this criteria has not been met, he will not allow the competitor to compete. Please wear clean clothing



  • All punching techniques are allowed to the front of the body. NOT THE SPINE, KIDNEYS OR BACK OF THE HEAD REGION
  • All hand techniques are legal to the body. NO HEAD CONTACT ALLOWED IN KIDS AND TEEN


  • All kicking techniques are allowed. NO STRIKES TO THE KNEES,WAIST,BACK, BACK OF HEAD


  • Any attempt at executing a takedown or Shoot must be done so with the primary motive to go to ground as quick as possible. Any attempt to walk with the lifted opponent or raise the opponent higher off the ground than is deemed necessary to execute a safe take down will be considered a serious foul with a high probability of immediate disqualification. No exception to this rule will be allowed under any circumstance.
  • No “spearing�? or dive tackling is permitted.
  • No slamming of the opponent is allowed.
  • No going to ground with the intent of landing on top of the opponent is allowed.
  • Hip throws are permitted.
  • All prevention necessary must be taken to not attempt to have you opponent fall on his/head or attempt to drop the opponent that their back of neck or head falls to the ground.
  • You are allowed to pull opponent towards you when going to ground.


  • WAYS TO WIN: Submission, whether given by tapping or verbally. It is VERY important that all competitors understand how to "Tap Out" when caught in a submission technique. Tapping out can be done either verbally or through a physical tap. Competitors can tap with their hands, feet, or even a nod of the head. This "Tapping" is a conscious admission of loss or surrender to an opponent. Referee Stoppage (TKO, cuts, feels fighter is not capable of defending himself), Doctor Stoppage, Corner throwing in the towel, Referee Decision, Disqualification, Forfeit, No Contest. If the fight does not end by submission or by points, the referee will choose the winner based on the Decision Making Criteria included in this document. If a match is considered a “Draw�? by the referee, there will be two-minute overtime (one minute for Kids & Teens). Referees are encouraged to choose a winner in every match should it not end by submission or points.
  • All submission techniques are legal for adults with the following exception; No neck cranks or knee straight ankle locks where the leg crosses the body (reaping of knee).
  • Kids and Teens 17 AND UNDER NO LEG LOCKS!!!.
  • OTHER FOULS: Fighters are not allowed to grab and use their opponents’ clothing. Attacks to the front of the windpipe (i.e. finger in throat), eyes (elbows, palms, fingers, etc.) or groin. No pushing the palm or elbow directly into the nose. No dropping or slamming an opponent on his head. No slamming from the Guard position. eye gouging, fish hooking, biting, hair pulling, pinching, twisting of skin, sticking a finger into an opponent’s cut, small joint manipulation (finger or toe locks), and putting a finger into any orifice are all FOULS and grounds for disqualification. No interference by a corner with any official or fighter. No throwing an opponent off the mat. No unsportsmanlike conduct. The Boston Crab technique is not allowed. Any intentional use of an illegal technique or act of poor sportsmanship will result in the immediate ejection of those competitors/spectators.
  • SCISSOR TAKEDOWN – When initiating a scissor takedown, at least one hand must be on the ground when applying the takedown.
  • Adult’s and Women’s divisions only. Toe hold, knee bar and straight ankle locks are allowed.These are the only 3 leg locks permitted in Copa Sport MMA
  • The Chief referee reserves the right to stop any attempt at any submission or lock, listed and un listed at any time of the match should he deem any such technique to be considered dangerous in any way but not restricted to the effect it has on an opponent. In other words while the attempt is being made to secure any technique which could be deemed as unsafe.

LENGTH OF MATCH: KIDS AND TEENS: Two 2 X 1.5 minute Rounds

ADULT MEN AND WOMEN : Two  2 x 2 minutes Rounds


MAJORITY VOTE: Points are awarded by a majority vote of all judges. The majority of judges do not have to agree collectively who the winners are. Majority of the judge’s decision will ensure the win.

During the match, if there is stalling on the ground, the referee has the right to restart the match standing. If the competitors go off the mat, the match can be stopped by the referee, and the competitors will be moved to the middle of the ring/mat in the same position, if that position can be determined by the referee. The referee has the right to stop time and check the condition of the fighters.

LEGAL TARGET AREAS: Head and face, ribs, chest, abdomen & legs.

ILLEGAL TARGET AREAS: Spine, back of neck/Head, throat, sides of the neck, Kidneys, groin, knees and back.

NON-TARGET AREAS: Hips, shoulders, buttocks, arms, and feet.

LEGAL TECHNIQUES: As described above. Legal techniques are all controlled sport karate/kickboxing techniques, except those listed as illegal.

ILLEGAL TECHNIQUES: Head butts, hair pulls, bites, scratches, elbows, knees (Juniors), eye attacks of any kind, take downs on a hard surface floor, any stomps or kicks to the head of a downed competitor, slapping, uncontrolled blind techniques, any uncontrolled throws, takedowns or sweeps with the intention of slamming the opponent to the ground or landing with excessive force on top of opponent and any other uncontrolled dangerous techniques that are deemed unsafe in sport Martial Arts.

GRABBING: Is allowed but no pulling on any part of the pants or top worn by any competitor.

SWEEPS, TAKEDOWNS, GRABS AND GROUND FIGHTING: Sweeps to take down an opponent, to obstruct the balance so as to follow up with a technique is allowed. A sweep must be deemed a proper sweep and not a kick, to be legal. Controlled sweeps that are meant to take down an opponent are allowed only on a declared approved padded surface.

LIGHT TOUCH CONTACT: Means there is no penetration or visible movement of the competitor as a result of the contact. Light touch is required to all legal target areas in all sparring

WARNINGS AND PENALTIES: One and only one warning is allowed for breaking the rules before a MINUS POINT is recorded on the draw sheet or score card. After the first warning is given, a Minus point is awarded for each and every rule violation. If a competitor receives 3 warnings (three penalty points) in any one match, he/she will be disqualified. If the severity of the first rules violation is deemed by the referee to be too severe, a minus point can be issued immediately or immediate disqualification can be enforced.

If, in the opinion of the referee and/or the medical personnel, a competitor cannot continue because of an injury caused by an illegal penalized attack executed by his/her competitor, the offending competitor shall be automatically disqualified.

Other Cause for Penalization: Attacking illegal and non-target areas, using illegal techniques, running out of the ring to avoid fighting, Preventing your opponent from initiating combat, continuing after being ordered to stop, excessive stalling, blind, negligent or reckless attacks, uncontrolled techniques, showing unsportsmanlike behavior by the competitor, his/her coaches, friends, etc., excessive contact, and delay of time are examples of possible penalization.

DISQUALIFICATION: Requires a majority vote by all officials, unless it is an automatic disqualification.

Non-Competing Penalty: If, in the majority opinion of the officials, it is considered that the competitors are not making an obvious attempt to fight in the true spirit of competition, both competitors will be warned and if it continues, will be disqualified.

Wrong Division: If any competitor competes in a division he/she does not qualify to compete in due to age, weight, rank, gender, style, etc., he/she will be disqualified.

COACHING: The luxury of having a coach is something that most competitors do not have access to. Therefore, it sometimes can become an unfair advantage over a competitor who does not have a coach. The rules are made and enforced so no one competitor has an advantage or disadvantage over another competitor. Therefore, coaching is allowed but only under the following guidelines:

Never, at any time, can a coach enter the ring without the referee’s permission, 2. No abusive, violent, unsportsmanlike or overzealous coaching; 3. Coaches cannot ask for a time out (only the competitor may ask for a time out), 4. Coaches can never, at any time, interfere with the proper running of the ring or the decisions of the judges. A Coach is defined as anyone who is trying to help one competitor in anyway. A coach could be but is not limited to a friend, parent, team mate or official coach. The centre referee can issue a warning to a competitor for each time his/her coach is interfering with a match or disrupting fair play between contestants.