Everything you need to know about the rules of ADCC World Championship

Here’s everything you need to know about the rules and format of the ADCC World Championship, the most prestigious grappling tournament in the world.

The submission grappling world is gearing up for its most prestigious competition. The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) World Championship takes place Sept. 28-29 from Anaheim, CA, and features the best submission grapplers in the world.

For submission grappling, the ADCC World Championships are the sport’s Olympics, its World Series, and its Super Bowl. For many, simply qualifying for the competition is an impressive accomplishment. For the few that win an ADCC championship, it is the crowning achievement of their grappling career.

The ADCC World Championship takes place every other year. Part of what makes the competition so prestigious is the exclusivity of its competitors. Each male weight class has 16 competitors, while each female weight class has eight. Grapplers are able to earn a spot in the competition by winning a Trials competition (an impressive accomplishment in its own right), being invited by ADCC, or winning the previous championship. The majority of competitors earned their spot by invitation. A complete list of competitors can be found here.

The rules in ADCC are a bit unique. For the first half of each match, no points are awarded, allowing competitors to hunt for submission without the worry of giving up a point-scoring position. At the mid-point of the match, the referee will announce “points,” and the remainder of the match is scored with points typical of most grappling tournaments. Points are awarded as follows:

  • Passing the guard = 3 points
  • Knee on stomach = 2 points
  • Mount position = 2 points
  • Back mount with hooks = 3 points
  • Takedown (ends Guard or Half Guard) = 2 points
  • Clean Takedown (ends passed the guard) = 4 points
  • Sweeps (ends Guard or Half Guard) = 2 points
  • Clean Sweep (ends passed the guard) = 4 points

Additionally, negative points are given for passivity or, importantly, pulling or sitting guard. With this point structure, guard players will often attack aggressively from their back for the first half of the match, but once points are invoked, takedowns are at a premium. In the tournament finals, negative points may be awarded during the first half of the match, further discouraging competitors from pulling guard.

ADCC matches test the grappler’s endurance. Qualifying matches are 10 minutes, with up to two five-minute overtime periods in the event of a draw. Finals matches are 20 minutes, with up to two 10-minute overtime periods.

The competition features five male weight classes and two female weight classes, as well as an absolute division (i.e. no weight class) for men. The divisions are sprinkled with notable names from the MMA world like Gilbert Burns, Antonio Carlos Junior, and Dillon Danis. Ultimately, though, the ADCC World Championship is about determining the best submission grappler in the world, not testing MMA fighters in the grappling realm.

The 2019 ADCC World Championship takes place on Sept. 28-29, 2019, live from The Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. FanSided will be mat-side bringing you photos and results from the event. Tickets can be purchased here.