Can MMA Fighters Have Long Hair?

By Logan •  Updated: 12/10/21 •  5 min read

According to the rules, MMA fighters are allowed to have long hair in both training and professional fights. However, many male and female fighters with long hair choose to have it tied up to keep it out of the way during combat.

Read this article to find out whether having long hair is really a disadvantage to fighters, what the rules say, and how the professionals handle it in MMA.

Can MMA Fighters Have Long Hair?

Is Long Hair A Disadvantage In A Fight?

Having long hair can be a disadvantage in a fight. Not only is long hair a potential target for a quick take-down, but it also provides an easy handle for an opponent to grab onto or even pull off. Long hair can be a distraction and make it difficult to see the punches coming from the opponent. 

Whether it is baggy clothing or hair, anything that could allow an opponent to pull, grab hold, or control you in any way can be considered a disadvantage in a fight.

Not only is having your hair pulled painful in itself, but your opponent can also easily control your body if they’re able to take a firm grasp of your hair.

You also need to consider how the hair could be a hindrance to your performance. Long hair can cover your eyes and make seeing much more difficult. The problem is multiplied when the hair gets wet and heavy with sweat.

In 2016, UFC fighter Shane Burgos proved how annoying it could be to fight with long hair. His ponytail started to get in the way so much during a fight that he had it cut off by his cornermen between rounds.

There have been other famous examples of fighters dealing with the downsides of long hair during fights.

Boxer Paulie Malignaggi struggled greatly with his long, heavy hairstyle. Malignaggi had to have his lengthy dreadlocks bound together with athletic tape and eventually hacked away during a contest in 2008.

Overall, keeping your long hair down in a fight has too many potential drawbacks for it to be considered a wise decision for most people.

Can MMA Fighters Pull Hair?

Professional MMA fighters are not allowed to pull hair. Hair pulling comes under the category of illegal moves in most professional MMA organizations, including the UFC.

Just because hair pulling isn’t allowed, however, it doesn’t mean it never happens. Having your hair pulled should still be considered if you are thinking about keeping it long for an MMA bout.

Do UFC Fighters Have To Have Short Hair?

There is nothing in the rules that forbids UFC fighters from having their hair long. There are a number of athletes on the UFC roster with long hair, especially females.

In most cases, the fighters with long hair will take measures to keep it out of their faces during training and on fight night.

When it comes to training, longer-haired fighters tend to use ties to keep their hair tied up and back. Of course, training is more controlled, so most fighters employ less-permanent methods of keeping their hair back during the weeks of a training camp.

On fight night, you often see the fighters opt for a more secure method of keeping their hair back. Cornrows and braid variants are the most common styles used by fighters with long hair who want to make sure it doesn’t come down over their faces.

Using braids is so common for fighters that there is even a style known as “boxer braids.” Boxer braids are when the hair is styled into a dutch braid on each side of the fighter’s head. These braids are secure and allow the athlete to perform without having to worry about their hair coming undone mid-fight.

The fact that most professional fighters have short hair or choose to have their hair tied back for fights is a clear indicator of the potential disadvantages keeping your hair long could have.

How To Tie Your Hair For An MMA Fight? 

It is not uncommon to see fighters sporting headgear before entering the octagon. But what about those who don’t like the feeling of their hair up under a sweaty band? 

Well, there are many different ways to tie your hair for an MMA fight. They include the regular braid, French braid, double braid, Dutch braid, regular bun, messy bun, half updo, braided updo.

Most people use tight, low ponytails as a way to keep their hair out of their faces, as it’s quick and easy to do.

  1. Make sure your hair is clean and combed through.
  2. Gather all of your hair at the base of your neck, you can do this higher up if you have shorter hair.
  3. Use a hair tie to secure the ponytail in place by twisting it around your hair.
  4. Use pins to secure it in place.

You can also opt for a bun:

  1. Make sure your hair is clean and combed through.
  2. Gather all of your hair at the back of your head, you can go as high or low as you want.
  3. Use a hair tie to secure the hair into a ponytail in place by twisting it around your hair.
  4. When your hair is in a ponytail wrap it around the hair tie to form a bun, secure in place with another hair tie.
  5. Use pins to secure it in place.

You may be a professional fighter or a hobbyist, but you still want your hair to look its best before an MMA fight. 

Final Thoughts

As of writing there are no rules in MMA about hair styles, you can choose whatever hair you want. If that’s long hair then that’s great! You will probably be best to tie it up for a fight though as there is nothing more annoying than having hair in your face when you are trying to concentrate.


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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