If you thought an MMA fight was a ruthless fighting frenzy with no rules, you would be very wrong. All sanctioned mixed martial arts bouts have rules, and most fights fall under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts which includes a long list of fouls that are put in place to protect fighters. Commit one of these fouls, and you might find yourself facing a deduction in points or worse.
There are several outcomes when one commits a foul. The referee might simply deduct one point as a penalty or could opt to deduct several points. If your opponent is incapacitated and no longer able to fight because of the foul, this changes the outcome of the fight. If the referee rules that your foul was intentional, then the match ends up with a disqualification. If the referee finds that the foul was unintentional, then the fight ends with a no-contest ruling.
In some cases, a fighter might seem to shake off a foul and continue to fight but then later on is unable to continue. If the fight ends minutes or rounds later because of the foul, then the bout is considered either a technical draw or a win by technical decision. If, at the time the bout was stopped, your opponent had an advantage in scoring, then the opponent wins by technical decision. If your opponent had equal or fewer points, then the fight ends with a technical draw. So maybe your opponent seems to be able to continue, but later finds that that he or she is unable to fight because of an injury from the foul, then this would cause a technical draw or a technical decision. The end result, either way, is that the person, who inflicted the foul, doesn’t get a win.
There are several dozen fouls that one can commit, and it is always best to avoid a foul not only because it can cause you to lose a bout, but also because the goal of a MMA fight is not to hurt your opponent. In addition, the results of committing a foul or not obeying the referee can occasionally seriously impact your career even if the foul was not charged during the bout.
Take, for example, the UFC 74 match-up between David Heath and Renato Sobral. Sobral held Heath in an anaconda chokehold and Heath tapped out, but Sobral refused to let go and continued to hold Heath until he passed out despite the referee commanding him to stop the hold. Sobral was fined and also released from his UFC contract just a few days after the bout. This was a clear foul, violating the rule that prohibits flagrant disregard of a referee’s instruction.
Disregarding referee instructions is just one of the fouls you want to avoid, as it is always best to try to win on your merits. All MMA fighters need to be well-acquainted with the rules in order to avoid breaking the rules. Other fouls that have been put in place include banning hits to the groin and kidneys, as well as prohibiting fish-hooking, eye-gouging, kicking or kneeing a grounded opponent in the head, and even profanity can cause a referee to issue a foul.