The Ultimate Fighting Championship is one of the globe’s leading combat sports organizations. This championship has seen many gladiators come into the octagon to compete for prestigious MMA titles. However, none of these competitions can take place without the help of referees.

Here are the top 12 most famous UFC referees:

  1. Herb Dean
  2. John McCarthy
  3. Marc Goddard
  4. Mike Beltran
  5. Dan Miragliotta
  6. Kevin Mulhall
  7. Leon Roberts
  8. Kevin McDonald
  9. Mario Yamasaki
  10. Josh Rosenthal
  11. Steve Mazagatti
  12. Yves Lavigne

These referees are known for either excellency in the craft or criticism they’ve received. The rest of this article will provide you with more information about each of these referees, so you can learn more about these well-known sports figures as well as what made them famous in the first place.

1. Herb Dean

Herb Dean is regarded as one of the best referees in the history of the UFC. He has won 8 UFC Referee of the Year awards in his career, and was nicknamed by Joe Rogan as the “Gold standard of UFC.”

Dean has officiated over 200 UFC fights since his commencement in 2004. In addition to being experienced in the referee world, he also has fighting experience that helps him make better judgements as an officiator.

Herb Dean’s Career

Dean formerly fought as a pro in the MMA heavyweight category. He has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he also has expertise in Karate and Judo. Dean’s respected decision-making is partially due to his fighting experience and deep understanding of the UFC rules, but he also has a great eye that allows him to do his job well.

He has also saved fighters from career-ending injuries by making calls that ultimately prevented further harm. The ability to quickly make fair and logical decisions is a skill that not all referees possess, but Dean certainly has this talent.

He is still active as a referee to this day. He continues to impress audience members and fighters alike with his impressive attention to detail, eye for fairness, and clear mastery of the art of refereeing.

2. John McCarthy

John McCarthy, also known as “Big McCarthy,” is another excellent referee who rose to fame in the UFC.

Over the years, Big McCarthy has officiated hundreds of UFC fights and has become one of the most experienced referees in the history of the championship.

John McCarthy’s Career

When he first started working as a referee for the UFC, the organization was still relatively new. McCarthy helped formulate specific MMA rules like technical knock-out (TKO). He also presided over UFC 2, giving him valuable referee experience. He is best remembered for the 13 second MMA fight between Conor Mcgregor versus Aldo.

McCarthy juggled officiating fights with his job as a police officer for nearly thirteen years. In his career, Big Mccathy was known for his professionalism, attention to detail, and his ability to make quick and fair decisions. He received three Referee of the Year awards and is now a retiree from fight officiation.

3. Marc Goddard

Marc Goddard was the first referee of UK origins to work for the UFC. He is one of the most well-known UFC referees and has a broad range of talents and experience that have served him well throughout his career in the MMA world.

Goddard rose to fame as an MMA fighter, but he eventually found more satisfaction in officiating matches. He has worked as a referee in over 40 different countries and has officiated in every continent.

Marc Goddard’s Career

Goddard started his UFC career with some controversial decisions that did not resonate well with the MMA community. He is often strict and displays a firm refusal to accept corrections and criticism. While this trait deems him arrogant to some, others argue that it makes him a more adequate and professional referee.

Goddard is known for being the referee of an infamous match involving Conor McGregor, who jumped in the ring to celebrate a teammate’s knock-out before the fight was officially over. This incident made headlines and received a lot of attention from many MMA fans.

However, despite the drama surrounding his name, Goddard does a good job of ignoring the criticism and continuing to do his job well. He is reputable for minding fighter safety and strictly implementing the UFC fight rules, which makes him one of the best referees the MMA world has known.

4. Mike Beltran

Mike Beltran is one of the most well-known UFC referees. While he has a lot of MMA experience and has served as a referee in many matches, it’s not his experience that makes him so identifiable: it’s his mustache.

Beltran is well-known for his signature mustache. This mustache falls to his hips and is often worn in different styles like double braids. This trait has made him one of the most unique and recognizable referees in UFC history.

Mike Beltran’s Career

In addition to being a referee, Beltran also has a background as a MMA fighter. He’s always loved fighting and has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Beltran started his referee career in 2009 and does a commendable job as a referee. He has made little to no career-damaging decisions, and he does an excellent job of making calls that are fair to both fighters. Although he does a great job refereeing bouts, his beloved mustache is what truly makes him such a recognizable UFC character.

5. Dan Miragliotta

Dan Miragliotta is a referee known for his strong physique and his title as an official for the UFC heavyweight championship.

 Standing at 6 feet (1.82 meters) and 4 inches (10.16 cm), Miragliotta weighs 295 pounds (133.81 kg) and has experience as a heavyweight in combat sports. He has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a 5th-degree black belt in Kenpo, and is a Muay Thai trainer.

Dan Miragliotta’s Career

Miragliotta is one of the most sought-after referees in the UFC and is truly reputable in his craft. However, like most referees, he has received some criticism in his career.

During the Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson match in 2008, Miragliotta seemed to favor Kimbo and allowed him to lay one too many strikes on his opponent when a stoppage was long overdue. He also called a premature knock-out on Thompson that was deemed biased.

Despite the criticism, Miragliotta still works as a referee and continues to officiate many UFC matches.

6. Kevin Mulhall

Kevin Mulhall is another UFC referee with a fair amount of fame. However, his attention seems to stem from infamous incidents involving himself and the fighters.

Mulhall has a habit of getting involved in altercations with frustrated fighters. There have been several incidents in which a fighter didn’t like his call and proceeded to act accordingly. The referee was even shoved in 2014 by an angry UFC combatant.

However, Mulhall is known for being professional and handled the shoving calmly. This scenario depicted Kevin as a respectable referee with an ability to stay collected during conflict.

Despite his desirable referee qualities, Mulhall officiated his last bout in 2019 and has made little public appearance since then.

7. Leon Roberts

Leon Roberts is yet another man who rose to fame during his career as a UFC referee. Roberts has plenty of experience in the MMA field, and this experience is what made him such a good referee. However, he has received his fair share of criticism over the years.

Leon Roberts’ Career

Roberts initially found his passion for MMA while working in a video store. He eventually trained as an MMA fighter and has nearly two decades of experience. He earned a black belt and became a referee for the UFC. As his career progressed, he developed a positive reputation for being committed to the craft and impartial while judging matches.

While Roberts made an exceptional referee, he was not spared from criticism. In a fight between Jose Aldo and Petr Yan, Roberts received criticism for delaying to call off the fight when he should have done so. This delay gave Aldo a chance to recover and essentially made the match unfair.

Despite a few mistakes, his career was generally solid. Roberts officiated his last match as an MMA referee during UFC 251.

8. Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald is a young referee with previous fighting experience. However, his fame comes from controversy and he is well known for his mistakes.

MacDonald is known for frequently making premature stoppages, which did not sit well with fans, fighters, and MMA executives. The most conspicuous was the call he made during the 2020 match between Ion Cutubela and Magomed Ankalaev. This call received a lot of criticism.

While this call was controversial and unfair, it did earn MacDonald a place on the list of most famous UFC referees.

9. Mario Yamasaki

Mario Yamasaki is an infamous UFC referee known for his controversial decisions and bad judgement.

Yamasaki rose to fame for all the wrong reasons. He is well known for delaying stoppage during the match between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscilla Cachoeira, which resulted in unfair damage to Cachoeira that could have been fatal. When asked about this mistake, Yamasaki claimed that he wanted her to be a warrior and fight back.

After this incident, Yamasaki showed a lack of remorse and would never officiate another fight in 2018.

10. Josh Rosenthal

Josh Rosenthal is another well-known UFC referee. However, his reputation is one of infamy. Surprisingly, this infamy comes from something completely irrelevant to MMA.

Rosenthal was a strong referee who made fair stoppage calls and protected combatants from fatal injuries. Unlike Marc Goddard, he would publicly own up to any mistakes he made. He was seen as a professional referee who made reasonable and just decisions.

However, Rosenthal was eventually arrested and convicted for marijuana possession and the intent to distribute. He was given a 3-year sentence for his indoor weed garden and immediately rose to infamy in the MMA community due to this arrest.

Rosenthal is no longer an official UFC referee because of this, and it is uncertain whether he’ll officiate future UFC fights with a criminal record.

11. Steve Mazagatti

Steve Mazagatti was a UFC referee, firefighter, and television personality. However, like many others, his climb to fame was also initiated by controversy.

Mazagatti received heavy criticism when he started fining fighters for doing things that were not against the UFC rules. Steve had an inverted understanding of the UFC policies and made mistakes according to this severe misunderstanding.

Steve Mazagatti Controversy

His bad judgment habits eventually led Mazagatti to make a career-ending call. During a match, he disqualified Jon Jones for allegedly elbowing Matt Mill when it was clear that this was not the case. This call proved Mazagatti’s judgement to be warped and he received instant criticism for his mistake.

Mazagatti’s less-than-adequate career truly came to an end when he was called out by the president of the UFC during a press conference. He was named a terrible and dangerous referee who did not deserve to be licensed, and this event quickly made headlines.

Because of his mistakes, some refer to Mazagatti as the worst referee in UFC history.

12. Yves Lavigne

Yves Lavigne is a Canadian-born UFC referee who has officiated numerous UFC fights. He is best known for his firm decision making, even when those decisions are controversial.

Lavigne received the most criticism during UFC 102 in the match between Chris Leben and Jake Rosholt. Lavigne made a late call on Leben’s tap out during Rosholt’s triangle choke. This delay led Leben to fall unconscious with convulsions. While this incident wasn’t fatal, it was one of the most frightening moments in UFC history.

Lavigne is still a UFC referee, but he is still haunted by criticism and the result of his clear lack of attention and focus.

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