"Even though most of your hand is hitting the back of the head, if your pinkie knuckle is hitting him in the ear, it's a legal shot," said Miragliotta. "Maybe that's what people don't understand. They said, 'Oh, it's the back of the head.' It is the back of the head, but it's hitting him in the ear.
"You get a guy like Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar, their hands are so big, when they hit you in the ear, they're still hitting the mohawk. That whole hand is about five or six inches wide. The earlobe is two inches. So four inches of your hand is hitting that mohawk, and that's considered a legal strike."
The Unified Rules of MMA, which are followed by most major athletic commissions, state that head strikes that touch the ear are acceptable. Illegal, however, are those that solely hit an area that runs from the crown of the head to the top of the ears with a one-inch variance – the so-called "Mohawk" area – or the area from the top of the ears down to the nape of the neck. The rule was modified in 2009 to make a distinction between the "Mohawk" definition used by most commissions and a "headphone" definition used by the California State Athletic Commission.