No sport fan likes it when a referee has an impact on the outcome of an event especially when they have the ability to stop the contest like they do in combat sports.
Fight fans witnessed one of the all-time howlers by an official at UFC Norfolk when referee Kevin McDonald stopped the Ion Cutelaba vs Magomed Ankalaev fight for seemingly no particular reason at all!
Cutelaba was blocking or handling everything that was being thrown at him by Ankalaev and was even the aggressor at the moment the fight was waved off! You be the judge.
— ShayMyName (@ImShannonTho) March 1, 2020
The Light Heavyweight fight looked like it was going to be a cracker too and fight fans (oh and Cutelaba himself) were robbed of some quality action!
This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time a referee has made a blunder and stopped a fight early.
Here is a list of the Worst Referee Stoppages In UFC History.
Robbie Lawler vs Ben Askren
The anticipation was at an all-time high to see how Ben Askren would perform in the ultimate Mixed Martial Arts promotion back in March of 2019.
The former ONE Championship champion was not in for an easy challenge against UFC stalwart Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut and in the early stages of the fight, he was getting absolutely pummeled.
Askren managed to get Lawler in a bulldog choke however and when referee Herb Dean thought his arm went limp, he waved the fight off giving Askren a controversial submission win.
It would be Askren’s only ‘win’ in the UFC before retirement.
— SBR Sports Picks (@SBRSportsPicks) March 7, 2019
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Marcus Silveira
Until UFC Norfolk on the weekend, this was hands down the worst stoppage in UFC history.
MMA legend Sakuraba was robbed of a chance to win in front of his home crowd in Japan when he attempted to avoid getting repeatably punched in the face by shooting for a single leg take-down.
Referee John McCarthy deemed this enough to stop the fight. One can only imagine why.
In a rare case of common sense by the UFC, the rematch happened later that night (Sakuraba won) and the first fight was deemed a No Contest.
Aaron Riley vs Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson caught Aaron Riley with a lovely right hook that floored his opponent however Riley recovered very quickly.
This was simply a horrible stoppage and one that Joe Rogan knew immediately was the wrong call.
Cain Velasquez vs Ben Rothwell
This one doesn’t seem as bad because Ben Rothwell was saved by the referee from further CTE after copping an absolute hiding by Cain Velasquez at UFC 104.
It was still an awful stoppage. As Rothwell is getting to his feet, the referee calls the fight off.
Renan Barao vs Urijah Faber
Barao rocked Faber with a beautiful overhand right that put him down however Faber was protecting his face with his left hand while on the ground.
I’m not sure Faber would have fully recovered from the blow however he was not given the opportunity by the referee.
Kevin Lee vs Michael Chiesa
You can usually tell that it is an early stoppage when a fighter immediately protests the decision.
I’m not sure how much longer Chiesa would have lasted in his fight against Kevin Lee at UFC 112 however it’s clear he did not tap.
Dana White famously said that he did not want to see Mario Yamazaki referee ever again.