Being a referee is commonly known as a thankless job. You have to make hard decisions in the heat of the moment that can have huge ramifications on not only a fighter's career trajectory, but occasionally on the sport as a whole.
In essence, you have to act as though you don't exist until you are needed to prevent a fighter suffering further injury and to enforce the rules. However, there are certain times a referee steals the limelight from the fighters they watch and end up in the headlines themselves.
This is never for doing a good job, because a referee doing a decent job isn't all that interesting. Instead, it's the juicy moments when they decide to go completely off-script and make you question what you just witnessed onscreen that grabs the top billing of MMA news outlets.
2019 was actually a rather good year for MMA referees as the training they receive improves, and the rules are better understood and unified across the world. As always though, there were also wildly crazy choices made across the past 365 days that sent UFC fans into frenzies this year - which we'll get right into.
8. Dan Miragliotta Decides A Punch Was To The Nose - UFC 238
In Tony Ferguson's grand return to the Octagon following his mental health episodes, against all-time legend Donald Cerrone no less, referee Dan Miragliotta caused quite the uproar when he awarded 'El Cucuy' the win via TKO.
After Ferguson landed a blow clearly after the bell right to Cerrone's dome, 'Cowboy' was then checked on by the doctor due to his eye swelling to comical size. The doctor rightfully waived the fight off due to Cerrone now resembling Popeye, and big Dan had to decide if it was the cheap shot that caused the swelling or not.
Following a video replay of the strike, he decided the shot after the bell landed on Cowboy's nose. People at home were then treated to the visual of the 49-fight veteran blowing his nose, something every fighter is taught not to do.
It was clear this was the real reason his eye ballooned, as air instantly filled his socket, though the Cerrone loyal still contend that Ferguson's punch was the true cause.
In hindsight, this seemed like the correct call. However the minutes long series of boos, the saddening visual of Tony Ferguson's head hung low in what was his comeback victory, and the explosion of anger for stopping such a great fight this way is hard to forget.