No MMA fan wants to see a fighter injured or worse because a referee waited too long to stop a fight. On the other hand, too much hard work and money goes into a fight for one to be stopped too soon.
In the end, having one of the toughest jobs in sports, referees are human and simply make awful mistakes sometimes. Unfortunately, while they are much safer for the fighters that late stoppages, early halts have a much bigger impact on an official's reputation because they affect the outcome of fights.
As you read through the five worst stoppage in UFC history, keep in mind that these referees had the best interests of the fighters in mind when they made their unfortunate decisions.
At UFC 98, Yves Lavigne officiated a bout between Kyle Bradley and Phillipe Nover. One minute into the fight, Nover was thrown to the canvas and hit with two right hands from Bradley.
The second punch briefly rocked Nover, which prompted Lavigne to grab Bradley and stop the fight. However, as Lavigne was calling an end to the fight, Nover began to roll into guard.
Seeing that Nover had recovered so quickly, Lavigne hesitated and allowed Bradley to continue. However, when Nover pushed Bradley away and got to his feet, Lavigne stepped in again and finally ended the bout.
Not long before Yves Lavigne's premature stoppage in the fight between Kyle Bradley and Phillipe Nover, another poor decision took place in a bout featuring Shane Nelson and Aaron Riley.
Less than one minute into the opening bout of UFC 96, Riley was dropped by a Nelson right hand. Riley immediately recovered and looked to gain full guard as Nelson jumped on him.
Despite Riley's obvious recovery, referee Rick Fike jumped in and pushed Nelson away. Instantly, Riley stood up and looked at Fike in disbelief.
Referee John McCarthy is one of the most respected officials in the sport. However, McCarthy has even had his fair share of blunders overs the years.
Most notably, McCarthy was responsible for a controversial stoppage in a fight between Marcus Silveira and Kazushi Sakuraba in the opening round of a heavyweight tournament at UFC Japan.
After Silveira threw a flurry of punches in the first two minutes of the fight, Sakuraba dropped down for an attempted takedown. However, McCarthy thought Sakuraba had been dropped by a punch and called a stop to the fight.
After an extremely upset Sakuraba protested the decision, the fight was overturned to a no contest. In a rematch later that night, Sakuraba defeated Silveira by submission.
Early in their fight at UFC 115, Matt Wiman caught Mac Danzig in a deep guillotine choke. Danzig looked to be caught in a hopeless position, but he was actively trying to fight off the submission attempt.
When Wiman said that he believed Danzig had gone unconscious, referee Yves Lavigne checked to see if the fighter's arm had gone limp. When Danzig did not give Lavigne a thumbs up signal, the referee stepped in to stop the fight, as he thought the former winner of The Ultimate Fighter had lost consciousness.
To Lavigne's dismay, Danzig had not passed out and sat up as soon as Wiman released the hold. Unfortunately, the fight could not be restarted and Wiman was awarded the victory.
At UFC Fight Night 19, a fight between Ryan Jensen and Steve Steinbeiss was refereed by Gary Ritter. In the bout's first round, Jensen secured a guillotine choke attempt.
As Ritter looked to make sure Steinbeiss had not gone unconscious, the fighter gave the referee a thumbs up signal. However, Ritter did not acknowledge the gesture and immediately stopped the fight.
A clearly distrought Steinbeiss began pleading his case to the official, saying that he had motioned that he was alright. The disastrous call led to a hard-to-swallow defeat in Steinbeiss' UFC debut.
Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. Sean has also had his work featured on UFC.com. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, you can follow Sean on Twitter @SeanSmithMMA.