A draw in a contest is a situation where the referee holds both fighters' arms up in the air to declare that no one has won the bout, but none has lost either. This unresolved stalemate is not ideal for either party in most situations, as it would hinder both combatants' plans of moving forward in their division.
It also leaves the fans unsatisfied. But draws are an unavoidable part of mixed martial arts, and by extension, UFC.
There are usually three types of draws - unanimous, split, and majority.
A unanimous draw occurs when all three judges agree that there is a draw, which is rare since MMA judges are encouraged to pick a winner in their scoring. Now, let's discuss the two more common types of draws that we see in MMA and figure out the difference between them.
What is a split draw?
A split draw occurs when one of the three judges scores the bout a draw, while the other two judges score it in favor of either one of the two competing fighters.
There have been a handful of instances when a fight ended in a split draw, most recently at Noche UFC on Sep. 16, 2023, where Alexa Grasso defended her women's flyweight belt against former 125 lbs. queen Valentina Shevchenko. At the end of five rounds, Sal D'Amato scored the fight 47-48 in Shevchenko's favor, while Junichiro Kamijo's scorecard said 48-47 for Grasso.
It came down to judge Michael Bell, who had scored the fight 47-47, resulting in a split draw. However, as per the rules, Grasso got to retain her title, which did not sit well with Shevchenko who had come into the fight to take her belt back.
The Kyrgyz-Peruvian fighter blasted Bell for the 10-8 in the last round. She even accused the judges of being biased towards Grasso because the fight took place on Mexican Independence Day.
A light heavyweight title fight over a vacant belt between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282 also notably ended in a split draw. Neither party walked away with the belt that night.
What is a majority draw?
A majority draw takes place when one judge scores in one fighter's favor, while the other two score the fight as a draw.
In recent memory, Jai Herbert vs. L'udovit Klein at UFC 286, Jimmy Crute vs. Alonzo Menifield at UFC 284, and Choi Doo-ho vs. Kyle Nelson at UFC Vegas 68 were majority draws. In the Crute vs. Menifield fight, it was a point deduction that directly impacted the result.
Referee Marc Goddard took a point away from Menifield for grabbing the fence in the third round. if not for the foul, the fight would have probably ended in a split decision for Menifield.