Mixed martial arts referees have one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in sport. They are tasked with knowing all the intricacies of the Unified Rulebook, keeping the fighters safe in the cage, while adhering to the letter of the rules to maintain the highest level of order inside the cage, sometimes in front of tens of thousands of fans. attendance and millions more watching at home. Mistakes come with work, but sometimes the leaders presiding over the action are forced to make tough, unenviable split-second decisions, many of which are ripe for criticism, regardless of the choice that is ultimately made. .
No decision or judgment gets the sport’s hardcore fan base on social media. These days, fans and handicappers are keen to know who the officials are before an event, after noticing trends based on past information. Check out the latest UFC betting odds, which are sure to change slightly as official assignments are announced for this weekend’s events.
Here are five times UFC referees have been unfairly criticized and, in some cases, destroyed on social media for tough calls made in high-pressure situations.
Herb Dean: Jai Herbert vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Depending on the point of view, Herb Dean is either considered the greatest umpire in sports history or one of the worst. For what it’s worth, Dean is active in training tomorrow’s aspiring referees, teaching classes in mixed martial arts refereeing and judging. Former UFC commentator Dan Hardy could be considered one of Dean’s critics, however, if his outburst at UFC Fight Night 174 is any indication.
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) July 26, 2020
Jai Herbert beat the UFC veteran soundly Francois Trinaldo on their feet for the majority of their fight before the third and final round. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trinaldo caught Herbert with an overhand left that sent him crashing to the ground. Dean, however, hadn’t seen enough to stop the fight yet, as Herbert had been squirming on the ground, perhaps in anticipation of any follow-up strikes from his opponent. Trinaldo then landed four more lefts on the floor before Dean waved it off. Fans were outraged by the late stoppage, but apparently no one was as furious as Hardy, who left the commentary desk after the fight to berate Dean for the stoppage. There have been far worse stoppages in the sport, so for it to be one that made a commentator as impassioned as Hardy, the instant reaction felt a bit over the top. Many assumed that Hardy and Herbert had some sort of personal relationship that prompted Hardy’s response, although according to the MMA expert, that was not the case. To Hardy’s credit, he apologized for his handling of the situation, but ultimately stood by his comments.
Marc Goddard: Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington
Colby Covington created a narrative on social media immediately after his first fight with Kamaru Usman this Marc Godard knocked him out of the UFC welterweight championship with an early stoppage at UFC 268. According to Covington, he believes Goddard got it for him, demanding that he never referee one of his fights.
Goddard may be one of the top three officials in the sport, but Usman vs. Covington wasn’t his best night in the office. However, the stoppage had nothing to do with it, instead there were several instances of fouls seemingly embellished by Usman such as a peek and a low kick that would set the stage for the post-fight outburst. of Covington. As for the stoppage, however, Goddard was right, as Usman legitimately broke Covington’s jaw. If anything, he saved Covington from taking more damage in a round that was clearly going south for him, but the number of fans questioning Goddard’s ability to get out of the fight was probably overstated.
💬 Colby Covington on his loss to Kamaru Usman:
“Marc Goddard should never referee a UFC fight again in his life.”
Glad to see he took it well. 😅 pic.twitter.com/pZmFDPDRgM
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) February 4, 2020
Jason Herzog: Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira
One of the first main event bouts of the UFC’s pandemic era, Jason Herzog gave Anthony Smith every opportunity to continue in a fight against the UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira in a fight that had eluded him. For some, Herzog gave Smith too many opportunities to continue, and the resulting aftermath caused a stir on social media, forcing the MMA media to ask tough questions, not just of Herzog, but of Smith and his corner too.
Herzog, who is considered one of the safest officials in the sport, apologized after the fact, saying he learned a hard lesson and took full responsibility for the late stoppage. That didn’t stop fans from trolling him, though the media was far less kind to Smith, who called Herzog’s apology a “cowardly move.” The Teixeira-Smith Jacksonville fight serves as a classic example that sometimes referees are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, underscoring the thankless nature of the job.
Herb Dean: Ben Askren vs. Robbie Lawler
Dean, who has already been recognized by the UFC president Dana White as the sport’s most trusted big fight referee, has come under intense scrutiny lately, perhaps the sport has begun to reach a wider audience in the past five years. Unfortunately, Dean chaired the Robbie Lawler–Ben Askren fight that ended prematurely and unhappily in the minds of many after Dean thought he saw Lawler’s arm going limp from a bulldog chokehold by the former Bellator and ONE FC champion. Lawler, however, immediately protested the stoppage much to the anger of MMA fans around the world who grilled Dean on social media after the fact for botching the call.
Dean finally gave his thoughts on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, and backed by his experience in the world of jiu-jitsu, cited how no chances can be taken with a submission like a bulldog choke and that he had to err on the side of caution. After all, an MMA referee’s number one job is to keep fighters safe, so Dean’s stoppage was well-meaning and for which he deserves some sympathy, as it looked like Lawler might have come out watching the fight. of the angle Dean had on the submission.
Herb Dean on his Askren vs Lawler stoppage during the JRE podcast…Honestly wish I heard from the refs more often pic.twitter.com/4Ei6Bzbjn4
— Mike (@TragicBronsxn) April 10, 2019
John McCarthy: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira
The finish at Kazushi Sakuraba versus. Marcus Silveira of UFC Japan in 1997 stands the test of time as one of the most controversial finishes in MMA history, and “Big” John McCarthy, the man who was instrumental in creating the Unified Rules of MMA was the on-site referee. As Sakuraba fired for a takedown near the start of the fight, he ate a crunchy combination from Silveira on the way down, leading McCarthy to believe he was knocked out, ruling the fight as such – initially.
After video review, McCarthy reversed his own decision and resumed the fight later that evening. With MMA regulations being on the light side of things in Japan during this time, McCarthy did what he had to do, and both fighters returned later that night to complete their pending business. The decision to get back in the fight ended up being a good one, as Sakuraba would win by armbar, but given McCarthy’s controversial nature these days, there’s no doubt he would have been chastised on social media by fans of the sport if it had happened in 2022. , although it took some heat on the underground forums. On the other hand, it can also be said that McCarthy’s decision to revive the fight was incremental, as video review has since begun to be implemented in the United States.