The referee has a crucial role to play in any MMA fight, and the importance of their ability to enforce the rules and look out for the health and safety of the fighters should never be underestimated.
However, these officials are only human and one error of judgement from the third man in the Octagon can have a huge impact on the outcome of a bout, as you’ll see in this article as we look back at 20 UFC fights that have been completely ruined by the referee.
Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley
44 seconds into their fight at UFC 96 in 2009, Shane Nelson landed what would prove to be a fight-ending right hand against Aaron Riley.
The only problem was that Riley had immediately attempted to get to full guard and seemed perfectly able to continue.
Apparently Rick Fike saw it differently though as he waved off the fight, at which point Riley rose back to his feet in disbelief at the TKO stoppage ruling.
The stoppage would instantly go down as one of the worst officiating blunders ever in the UFC and led to an immediate rematch just a few months later, which Nelson would this time lose by unanimous decision.