Mario Lopez’s Tournament DQ Continues to Stoke Controversy Over IBJJF Rules

Actor and TV host Mario Lopez lost his match at an IBJJF Open back in March, thanks to a controversial DQ call by the referee – but although the match footage was posted to YouTube nearly half a year ago now, the video continues to fuel debate on social media and other online platforms. The referee disqualified Lopez due to Lopez’s alleged attempts to “flee the mat” while stuck in an opponent’s submission attempt. In the video, the referee accuses the actor of deliberately forcing a reset by rolling out of bounds, which Lopez and his coach deny.

Several viewers commented this week defending the referee’s decision, with one berating his fellow commenters, “A lot of crap in the comments. [He’s] clearly in a deep baseball choke. A tricky one and you can actually see a lot of people go to sleep from this one in [tournaments]. They go out of bounds and with intention. So DQ is the only correct call.”

Other viewers disagreed strongly, with one posting, “Terrible, terrible DQ. There was no choke and he wasn’t fleeing anything. He was trying to establish knee-on-belly and his opponent was bridging and hanging onto the gi while framing. Mario is a highly skilled blue belt and an incredible athlete at 49 years old. He was robbed of the opportunity to demonstrate his jiu-jitsu because he’s Mario Lopez. Nobody else is getting DQ’d for that.”

On a Reddit thread posted this week, one user commented, “I can’t see a single thing that would be grounds for the penalty, let alone the DQ,” while another wrote, “He got IBJJF’d, he was in no trouble and to claim he was fleeing the mat to alleviate a choke is a fucking joke. As they say, this was a miscarriage of justice.”

Much of the discourse pokes general fun at the IBJJF’s sometimes seemingly arbitrary DQ and penalty calls. Back in 2021, for example, jiu-jitsu star Nicholas Meregali and double gold favorite was famously disqualified from the ultra-heavyweight semifinals against Victor Hugo for flipping the bird at a spectator. The reasoning? Unsportsmanlike conduct, according to the ref.

It’s a lot to chew on – and will no doubt continue to generate debate as more and more famous names get involved in the sport, subjecting themselves to the notoriously esoteric rules of Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s biggest governing body.


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