According to the Unified rules of MMA, as adopted by California’s Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports, a verbal submission qualifies as such when, “A contestant verbally announces to the referee that he or she does not wish to continue or makes audible sounds such as screams indicating pain or discomfort.”
At The Titans Cage (TTC) 18 on March 17, 2018, Aaron Graf announced his agony to the sold out crowd inside Sacramento’s McClellan Conference Center when Brad Renton locked in an arm bar out of thin air. Renton cranked all the tendons, muscles, and bones in Graf’s arm in an unfamiliar direction. To unlock the painful grasp of Team KSA’s Renton, Graf voiced the key word: “Tap.”
A cage side official from C.A.M.O (California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization) heard the plea for mercy; in fact, in the video of the featherweight affair, viewers can see him attempting to alert the referee of the verbal tap. Moreover, Renton honored Graf’s request by letting go. The only person to not register the first-round submission was the third man in the cage.
Not only was a victory ripped from Renton in the opening frame, he suffered the heartbreak of defeat after Graf landed a head kick knockout twelve-seconds into the very next round.
Although TTC is an all-amateur MMA promotion and is designed to provide a platform for mixed martial artists to develop their skillsets, there are instances, such as what occurred between Graf and Renton at TTC 18, where a particular level of professionalism—and honor—from the athletes carries more value than the win.