MMA is not a free for all, and fighters taking part in sanctioned MMA bouts do have rules in place to protect them. These rules include a variety of fouls, and if you are charged with a foul, you will earn a penalty and point deductions. The deductions as well as other considerations could lead to your losing the fight entirely.
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, the fighter might seem able to continue after a foul, but then later on has to stop because of an injury due to your foul. For instance, maybe at first the fighter seems fine, but then later experiences dizziness or some other problem due to the foul. If enough rounds have been fought and the score so far shows that your opponent is ahead in points, then the opponent wins the fight by technical decision. However, if the fighter does not have the advantage in points, the fight ends in a technical draw. Basically, in the case of an incapacitation, the outcome is not going to be in your favor.
If you plan on fighting in sanctioned bouts, be prepared to learn about each of the more than two dozen fouls that you should avoid committing. Your objective should always be to win a fight without committing fouls or intentionally hurting your opponent. In some cases, fighters have avoided being charged with an MMA foul, but the fallout from the foul negatively affected their career.
While the UFC 74 fight between Renato “Babalu” Sobral and David Heath ended with Sobral winning by submission, this definitely wasn’t the end of the story. Sobral did lock Heath in an anaconda choke and Heath did tap out. But Sobral, angry at Heath for alleged trash talk, held the choke until Heath lost consciousness despite orders from the referee to let go. Ignoring the referee is a clear foul, and when an opponent taps out, you are supposed to release them. Sobral did neither, and while he won the fight, he was promptly fired by the UFC and the once fan-favorite found himself on the receiving end of boos and many negative comments.
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.