As the calendar pages continue to flip, we find ourselves in the middle of November. At this part of the year, fans and pundits alike have got their personal favorites in mind for year-end superlatives.
There are plenty of awards that honor the best in mixed martial arts; however, we will instead be looking at a distinction that no licensed official wants to their credit.
It is the duty of any MMA official to ensure the safety of fighters. That means stepping in at the right time to prevent them from taking unnecessary punishment.
Their job also includes the recognition of situations that are not as dangerous. Knowing when a fighter is intelligently defending himself is of the utmost importance. The last thing you'd want to do is prematurely declare that a fighter has been finished.
Another important task of officials is making sure that fighters adhere to the rules. No shots to the groin, eyes, back of the head or spine are allowed. These regulations are there to promote fighter safety, and the in-cage official needs to pay careful attention to the action in order to determine if someone has landed an illegal shot.
Unfortunately, these duties are not always satisfied to the highest level of accuracy. Referees are humans too, and they will make mistakes from time to time. However, it is important that they are aware of their errors and that corrections be made in the future.
Here is a look at the worst referee calls of 2012.
Erick Silva is a hot prospect in the UFC's welterweight division despite losing his second fight within the organization only 29 seconds into the first round.
The reason that Silva has been able to get past the loss is because it is all but unanimously dismissed as being a farce due to its ludicrous nature.
You see, Silva quickly dismantled his opponent standing and threw a flurry of shots to earn what fans thought was a TKO victory. However, one shot landed on the back of Carlo Prater's head, so referee Mario Yamasaki disqualified Silva as if the blow was intentional and as if it was the shot that caused the fight's conclusion.
The decision was so outrageous that commentator Joe Rogan put Yamasaki on the spot by questioning him about it live during the post-fight interview.
Early on at the UFC 143 card, preliminary fighters Alex Caceres and Edwin Figueroa were engaged in an exciting standup battle. "Bruce Leroy" was in control of the contest, but unfortunately, his low kicks were a little too close to the groin for comfort.
After each of the first two low kicks, referee Herb Dean administered a warning to Caceres. Clearly, the shots were intended to land on his opponent's leg, and they were all accidental fouls.
When a third low blow landed, Dean had no choice but to take a point away from The Ultimate Fighter star. However, in a surprise move, Dean took not one, but two points away.
This move is completely within the rights of Dean, and he is authorized to take multiple points if the foul is deemed severe enough.
Figueroa had lost at least two rounds on all three scorecards, but ended up winning a split decision after the deductions.
Later in the evening, Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce were engaged in one of 2012's closest fights when Koscheck began tagging Pierce with his infamous eye pokes.
Dean warned Koscheck throughout the contest for the repeated fouls, so when the action stopped in the third frame to give Pierce a moment to recover, the precedent was set for Dean to remove two points from the blonde-haired big mouth.
In a stunning display of inconsistency, Dean didn't take two points like he had earlier with Caceres. In fact, he didn't take any points at all.
Koscheck would go on to win a split decision.
Two minutes into a UFC 153 contest between Fabio Maldonado and Glover Teixeira, I looked over at my buddy Matt, casually pointed at my prediction that Teixeira would win via ground in pound in the first round and enjoyed a prideful moment of absolution.
As the seconds ticked away, I noticed that referee Mario Yamasaki wasn't jumping in to save a fighter who was eating far too much damage to be considered "intelligently defending himself."
Incredibly, Yamasaki would not only let the round conclude, but he allowed Round 2 to go down in almost the exact same manner and still wasn't satisfied enough to call for a TKO stoppage.
Mercifully enough, the cageside official called a stop to the bout between rounds after declaring that Maldonado was unfit to continue.
Referees are public officials who are entrusted with ensuring the safety and well-being of fighters. You know it's a really bad stoppage if the state is reviewing your lack of action inside the cage.
Jerry Poe was the cageside official at Bellator 78 when former DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis was brutally beaten after losing consciousness.
When a fighter is limply flailing on the ground, it's time to step in. I'm not sure if Poe was making sure that Zaromskis wasn't about to wake back up and become active again or what, but his late stoppage in this fight was absolutely inexcusable.
Watch the video above if you can. It's not easy to look at.
Even the best in the business make mistakes. Josh Rosenthal is not immune to that truth.
After officiating the main event for UFC on FUEL 4 earlier this summer, Rosenthal received heavy criticism for his hesitance to wave off an attack from Chris Weidman on opponent Mark Munoz.
Munoz was eating heavy ground and pound and was clearly finished, but Rosenthal hadn't jumped in to save him yet. However, Rosenthal isn't one to pretend that his mistakes don't exist.
In an interview with Sirius radio, Rosenthal admitted that he was late in the stoppage.
I came home and I watched it, and I was kind of like you know, if I was sitting here, watching this on the couch, I probably would have been talking smack about myself. I always say accountability is a huge part of the sport, and you are accountable for your actions. I feel like I was a little show on the trigger.
It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong. Well done, Mr. Rosenthal. Well done.
It wasn't a great summer for referee Josh Rosenthal. He surprisingly makes this list for a second time, and both offenses came during the month of July.
At UFC 149, welterweights Matt Riddle and Chris Clements met in an exciting battle of wills. At one point, Riddle landed a beautiful body kick to Clements, which doubled him over in agony. Believing that Riddle had just landed a low blow, Rosenthal stepped in to give Clements time to recover.
It's a kick to the body, and Rosenthal jumps in the middle because he thought it was a kick to the groin.
Come on. You're standing right there. Open your eyes. Pay attention – this is what you're getting paid to do. You choose to do this. If you don't want to do it 100 percent, don't do it. Go do something else. The fight could've been ended right there. That's a situation where he doesn't see it, stops the action, gets half-assed in there instead of making a clear, decisive decision. And what if Riddle lost the fight after that at a point where he had him hurt to the body with a beautiful kick? And he jumps in the middle.
In the grand scheme of things, Riddle couldn't have won the fight anyway, as a failed post-fight urinalysis ultimately led to a result change. The battle will go into the record books as a no contest; however, in the moment, Rosenthal's action is inexcusable. A fighter should never be given the opportunity to recover from a legal blow..
When Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann met at The Ultimate Fighter finale on June 1, it was a battle between top welterweights who were both trying to close in on an elusive title shot.
Ellenberger entered the fight with six consecutive wins to his credit, and a win over Kampmann would have given him the longest winning streak in UFC welterweight history that was not rewarded with a crack at championship gold.
Early in the fight, Ellenberger's powerful striking sent Kampmann down only 30 seconds into the contest. The big left hook was followed up instantly by a flurry of ground-and-pound strikes to the head and face of Kampmann. The flurry lasted for nearly 12 seconds before Kampmann looked to have gotten himself out of trouble.
In the second round, Kampmann used clinch knees to knock Ellenberger to the ground; however, Mazzagatti was not interested in affording "The Juggernaut" the same opportunity to recover. Before Ellenberger hit the canvas, Mazzagatti had already begun closing the distance to call Kampmann off.
For anyone at home shouting at the screen about the inconsistency, it didn't fall on deaf ears. Commentator Jon Anik was quoted during the replay" "Jake Ellenberger went down and Steve Mazzagatti didn't give him even a second to recover."
The loss was a major setback for Ellenberger, who lost his placement in line for a title shot. Meanwhile, Kampmann is now in the title hunt.
You can't have a bad referee list without Kim Winslow. The queen of bad calls makes her first appearance on this list after determining that John Albert had submitted in a fight against bantamweight Erik Perez.
Albert discussed the situation with MMAmania's Brian Hemminger. The fighter explained what happened inside the Octagon.
Okay well I'll break it down pretty simple. I went for a triangle and transitioned to an armbar and my armbar slipped. He did a fancy topside kind of triangle which pinned me down and as soon as I tried to turn out, he went for the armbar which is perfect for him. He transitioned perfectly into it, but the thing about me is, I train all the time in armbar reverses and there's multiple armbar reverses. I was already working my way around. When they say he's got his belly to the mat, well that's the worst for him because he can't extend it any more. My arm is as straight as it can go and he can't straighten it out any more. I had already rotated my shoulder, put my thumb on the mat so like he couldn't break it even if he tried. He would literally have to keep rolling over.
So knowing that, I was trying to step over his body and yeah, I grunted. I said "Ungh!" but there's no verbal submission from that. I didn't physically tap. I didn't verbally say, "I quit," "stop" or "I tap." Those are the only things you can say to end a match. Just because you grunt, are you gonna stop a guy in the middle of a fight because he grunts for a takedown? I don't know how else to explain it. I grunted because I was trying to get out of the position. I had a free hand to tap.
Hemminger would explain the rule in it's exact wording and agree that Winslow's call wasn't justified.
This is from the UFC's website so it's as legit as it gets. It says, "A fight can be stopped by a referee due to a fighter screaming in agony if they're in a submission. Now I don't think you did. In my opinion, you weren't screaming in agony. That was just a grunt to get out of position. I think [Winslow] took liberty with the rule and made a judgement call because nobody heard it. It must have been a really light grunt and she just dove in. That's the way I saw it.
UFC president Dana White agrees that the decision was awful, and Albert was awarded his win bonus from the fight due to the controversial nature of the stoppage.
In the final fight of King Mo's career in Strikeforce, he knocked out Lorenz Larkin in spectacular fashion. The ground and pound was absolutely brutal, and referee Kim Winslow did not step in to call a stop to the action until 15 unanswered punches found their mark.
On the Showtime broadcast, commentator Pat Militech went to town on Winslow for her inaction.
The referee did not stop it when she should have. We were talking about it during the fight. King Mo came over, looked at me and said 'should have been stopped a long time before that.' He's mad at the referee because he did not want to hurt Lorenz Larkin. He has a heart.
This is another example of a referee failing to properly protect the athletes in the cage. Given that King Mo was holding Larkin's head steady with one hand and repeatedly bashing him with the other, Winslow is lucky that her poor work in the cage didn't result in worse damage.