Is there anything worse than having an awesome fight fucked up by a stupid ref? Lots of people like to say that being a ref is one of the hardest jobs out there, but personally I think that’s just an exaggeration perpetrated by refs to cover for when they screw up. And boy, do they ever screw up. Considering the basic concept of two guys going at it in a cage, there’s a surprisingly long list of ways in which a fight can be pooched by the third man in the ring. This award goes to the ref who has managed to do that in epic fashion.
AKA the Dean of the Unforseen, AKA the Black Cat of MMA (and not because of his skin color). Herb is known for being extremely inconsistent with standups, stopping fights prematurely, and misinforming fighters of their rights when they get fouled.
Partial highlights of the year: He did such a poor job during Pete Spratt / Ryan Ford that he cost Pete Spratt the fight. He also fucked up the Marquardt / Leites fight, taking a point away for an imaginary foul and then ignoring Marquardt’s powerbombing of Leites. More recently, he was criticized for what some considered an early stoppage of the Mir / Nog fight.
Donnie’s history as a major MMA ref is short but illustrious: he was the referee at the UFC’s Fight for the Troops event who obviously didn’t know shit about ground fighting. His comments during the Reese / Bruno fight were more befitting a drunken crowd member than a ref, and he was paying so little attention to the Hill / Hardt fight that he didn’t realize Hill’s leg was broken in half.
Donnie Jessup represents a large amount of what’s wrong with MMA reffing today: it’s filled with buttfuck boxing referees who have no idea what the sport is about and don’t seem to have any interest in learning.
Meet the ref that Dana White said “just isn’t very good”. Steve is known for letting fights go on past the point of sanity … we’re talking about multiple times where fighters look up at Steve as if to ask “Do you seriously want me to keep punching this helpless person in the face?” The answer from the Mazz: “Yes, yes I do.”
Highlights of the year include handing Anthony Johnson a loss when he was brutally eye poked by Kevin Burns. He also demanded that Cris Cyborg knock Shayna Baszler out twice and stood up Lesnar / Mir over a single punch to the back of the head. This call wound up costing Lesnar the fight and completely changed the course of the heavyweight division for the rest of the year.
New Jersey’s go to guy and once apparent heir to Big John McCarthy’s throne, Dan made a good first impression during the tail end of 2007 but things quickly turned to shit in 2008. During EliteXC’s Primetime show he cocked things up bigtime, pulling a bevy of fishy moves out during the headlining Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson fight. Standing up the fight for no reason, refusing to stop the fight after Kimbo ate over two dozen strikes to the face, and finally waving off the fight in Kimbo’s favor while Thompson was still standing.
But that was only the beginning of the love affair Miragliotta had with fans over the next six months. Other highlights include a controversial stoppage of Vera / Werdum, poking Heath Herring in the eye before his fight with Brock Lesnar, knocking Akihiro Gono over twice during his fight with Dan Hardy, and raising the wrong fighter’s hand during the Taylor / Liaudin decision.
Honorable Mention: Many jackals nominated Cecil Peoples, but we were unable to find any specific fights in 2008 that he fucked up. Perhaps he deserves a special lifetime achievement award, but for this year he is in the clear. Mario Yamasaki also got some grief for letting fights go too long, but he simply didn’t get enough nominations.