5 times MMA referees have feuded with UFC fighters and Dana White

Referee Marc Goddard
Referee Marc Goddard

The UFC is home to a legion of officials and referees. They are some of the most highly trained and well-respected professionals. However, since their jobs include officiating high-profile fights and events, their conduct is often evaluated under a microscope.

Fights in a premier promotion like the UFC have a lot hanging in the balance. From unbeaten streaks and championship titles to the health and safety of fighters, athletes put a lot on the line before stepping into the octagon.

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor
UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor

Fighters rely on the wisdom and experience of referees to walk out of the cage with an unbiased and accurate result. However, referees often find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of flak for calling the wrong shots in the octagon. The fact that a fighter's future in the promotion hinges on the decisions of a referee means that tensions often arise.

From disgruntled fighters who believe their fight was called off too soon to higher-ups chastising them for a delay in stepping in to protect a fighter, referees have to deal with a lot of negativity.

Herb Dean says what UFC commentator Dan Hardy did last night was “dangerous.”

While they are accustomed to a certain degree of backlash, there have been instances where their detractors have gone overboard with their criticism.

In this article we take a look at a few instances in which referees developed a bad blood feud with UFC fighters or UFC president Dana White.

#5. UFC president Dana White and referee Chris Tognoni

Referee Chris Tognoni has found himself at the mercy of UFC head honcho Dana White multiple times. White admonished him over a series of incorrect calls and stoppages.

Dana White initially went on a tirade, berating Tognoni for the way his decision flipped the script during a fight between Ed Herman and Mike Rodriguez at UFC on ESPN+ 35.

Tognoni, in the second round of the fight, wrongly identified a clean shot from Rodriguez that dropped Herman as a low blow. This proved to be a turning point as Herman was allowed time to recover. He came back stronger in the third round, forcing Rodriguez to tap out. In the post-fight press conference, White said:

“It’s hard not to bang on this guy. The worst I’ve ever seen. That was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. That kid wins by knockout, technical knockout and loses the fight. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” said White in the post-fight press conference.

Chris Tognoni committed a similar blunder in the very next fight, prompting Dana White to consider a change in regulations to deal with frequently faltering referees.

Instead of calling an end to the fight between Sarah Alpar and Jessica Rose-Clark after the latter landed a clean shot, Tognoni offered Alpar time to recuperate. This was because he believed it was an illegal shot. Although Tognoni's error didn't cost the Australian her win like Mike Rodriguez, the fight went on for longer than it should have; thereby attracting the UFC kingpin's wrath. The fight marked yet another loss on Sarah Alpar's record.

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Edited by Jack Cunningham

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