CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Mike Beltran isn't just the owner of one of the most celebrated beards in mixed martial arts. He's also a longtime veteran of the Southern California martial arts scene who knows MMA's unified rules inside and out.
Friday night, Beltran demonstrated he's not afraid to use even the most obscure corner of the rulebook when warranted.
Beltran was the third man in for the featherweight scrap between Sam Toomer and Daniel Aguiar on the main card of RFA 15 on Friday night at the Culver City Auditorium.
After a warning and then a point deduction, Beltran disqualified Aguiar with 35 seconds left in the final round.
The reason? Timidity. It's the 26th of the 31 listed fouls for which a fighter can be penalized, and it's among the least often cited.
"I gave him every opportunity I think I could to engage," Beltran told MMAFighting.com after the card. "He kept on doing what he was doing."
The conditions were set from the start in the matchup between the up-and-coming Toomer (8-0, 1NC), a striker from San Diego's Arena MMA, and Aguiar (10-4), a Black House fighter who has scored all 10 of his career wins via submission.
Toomer was clearly going to avoid the ground at all costs if he could help it. He got the best of the first round's limited exchanges and never gave Aguiar an opening to implement his game. By round two, it became clear Aguiar didn't have much of a Plan B, as he'd stay on the ground when Toomer scored knockdowns, but Toomer wouldn't bite, as he refused to follow Aguiar to the mat.
In round three, things got ridiculous. Aguiar flopped to the mat at the slightest provocation like a soccer player looking to draw a yellow card. A couple minutes into the round, Beltran issued a warning after a heated conversation.
"I told him he needs to fight and he needs to engage," Beltran told MMAFighting.com. "I said he has to fight, that's what we're here for. I asked him if he was okay and if he wanted to continue."
Almost immediately after the restart, Aguiar flopped back to the mat. When the antics continued, Beltran stopped the fight and docked him a point.
Finally, Toomer cracked Aguiar with a leg kick that was solid, but nothing that would end up on a highlight reel. Aguiar hit the mat like he'd been shot. Beltran made one last attempt to get Aguiar to re-engage in the fight, and when Aguiar refused, Beltran waved off the bout.
"I went through the full protocol," Beltran said. "I gave him a warning, I deducted a point, I thought maybe that would make him engage, he didn't, he kept on, he didn't want to engage and at that point I really had no choice but to disqualify him for timidity."
MMA disqualifications for any reason are rare. Timidity DQs are almost nonexistent: While there have no been doubt others, the only one which jumped to mind on a high-profile show was Nick Serra's loss to Matt Makowski on the Elite XC card in Newark, N.J. in 2008, which turned out to be Serra's last career fight.
For his part, the man with the braided beard couldn't recall anything like it.
"You got me on that one," Beltran said. "If I ever called that one before, I can't remember it."