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Red Card in MMA: Everything you need to know about it

LockerRoom Team
04 March 2024

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) regulations are generally standardized across most organizations, ensuring a consistent framework for competition. However, certain promotions, such as the now-discontinued Pride Fighting Championships and ONE Championship, have established their own unique set of rules, including the utilization of red and yellow cards for penalties and disqualifications.

At the recent ONE 166 event in Qatar, referee Herb Dean made headlines by employing the red card against a fighter, prompting questions about its significance and the rationale behind its use. The use of red and yellow cards in MMA originated with Pride FC and is distinct from the unified rules adopted by mainstream MMA organizations.

According to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, referees have discretion to issue warnings, deduct points, declare no contests, or disqualify fighters for foul play. The decision is based on the severity of the infraction and its impact on the match.

Pride FC introduced the use of red and yellow cards to penalize specific infractions such as stalling tactics or passive engagement. In ONE Championship, a red card signifies immediate disqualification from the match, differing from Pride FC where it serves as a warning before potential disqualification.

During ONE 166 in Qatar, Herb Dean utilized the red card to disqualify Arjan Bhullar from the match against Amir Aliakbari. Bhullar's tactical approach, characterized by passive engagement and lack of offensive intent, resulted in repeated warnings from Dean. Despite previous yellow cards, Bhullar's continued inactivity prompted Dean to issue a red card in the third round, ultimately leading to his disqualification.

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This incident highlights ONE Championship's commitment to enforcing its unique ruleset and maintaining the integrity of competition. While Bhullar's disqualification may have extended his losing streak, it underscores the importance of active engagement and adherence to the rules in MMA competition, particularly within promotions with distinctive regulations like ONE Championship.

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