3 of the best MMA referees, and 1 of the worst

A quick look at one of the toughest jobs in MMA and some of the people who do it
Jul 6, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jorge Masvidal (red gloves) punches Ben Askren (blue gloves) as
Jul 6, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jorge Masvidal (red gloves) punches Ben Askren (blue gloves) as / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the worst MMA referees, Chris Tognoni

Chris Tognoni has unfortunately been at the center of more than one controversy related to the manner in which he adjudicates MMA bouts.

Perhaps the most notable example occurred during a September 2020 bout between The Ultimate Fighter alum Ed Herman and Mike Rodriguez. Tognoni stopped the action in the second round due to a kick that he perceived to be below the belt line.

While not official, replay would show the kick was both legal and precise, leaving no doubt why Herman went down. Herman would go on to offer an Oscar worthy performance six months before Aljamain Sterling.

Herman would take several minutes before deciding to continue and ultimately submit Rodriguez in the third round. UFC President, Dana White, took serious issue with the judgement call in his post-fight press conference.

The faux pas was followed up by another erroneous stop in the action by Tognoni the following week in a fight between Jessica Rose-Clark and Sarah Alpar. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) had apparently seen enough, implementing the use of replay in October of 2020.

Nearly three years later, to the day, Tognoni found himself mired in yet another controversy at Noche UFC. Edgar Chairez and Daniel Lacerda were just shy of the four-minute mark of the first round when Lacerda found himself stuck in a standing guillotine.

Lacerda asserts he relaxed his entire body in an effort to defend the choke and hopefully cause Chairez to tire out his arms in the process. Tognoni took Lacerda's body language to indicate he was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Upon Chairez releasing the choke, Lacerda immediately objected to the stoppage. Replay would show Lacerda's arm appearing to go limp in a manner consistent with losing consciousness.

However, many experienced BJJ practitioners and professional fighters, including members of the UFC broadcast team, voiced support for relaxing in that position and took issue with Tognoni's decision. After consulting with NSAC, the bout was ruled a no-contest.

Despite his errors in judgement, one would be remiss for not acknowledging that no one is perfect. Tognoni also deserves recognition for acknowledging his mistake to Lacerda as the decision was being read. Maybe September is just not his month.

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