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Best UFC Referees: Find The Most Reliable and Respected UFC Referees in MMA | MiddleEasy


Montalvo’s expertise and professionalism have made him one of the most frequently used referees by the UFC. With his keen eye for detail, he ensures that every fight follows strict rules and regulations.Keith Peterson

Key Takeaways

  • The role of a referee is crucial in maintaining fairness, safety, and integrity within the Octagon.
  • Top UFC referees include well – known names like Herb Dean, John McCarthy, Marc Goddard, as well as rising stars such as Jason Herzog and Mike Beltran.
  • Highly respected officials like Greg Franklin, Steve Mazzagatti, Kevin Mulhall, Kevin Sataki, Steve Perceval, Jacob Montalvo, Kevin Macdonald Josh Rosenthal Leon Roberts Kerry Hatley Keith Peterson Mark Smith consistently make swift and impartial calls while upholding safety standards.
  • Having highly skilled and unbiased officials is critical to ensuring the integrity of the sport remains intact for its success and growth.

Top UFC Referees

  1. Greg Franklin
  2. Steve Mazzagatti
  3. Kevin Mulhall
  4. Kevin Sataki
  5. Steve Perceval
  6. Jacob Montalvo
  7. Kevin Macdonald
  8. Josh Rosenthal
  9. Leon Roberts
  10. Kerry Hatley
  11. Keith Peterson
  12. Mark Smith
  13. Mike Beltran
  14. Yves Lavigne
  15. Marc Goddard
  16. Jason Herzog
  17. John McCarthy
  18. Mario Yamasaki
  19. Chris Tognoni
  20. Dan Miragliotta
  21. Herb Dean

One example that showcases John’s expertise is when he stopped the fight during Tito Ortiz vs Chuck Liddell 2 after seeing that Liddell was seriously hurt. His quick actions ensured that Liddell didn’t suffer any long-term damage or injuries from continuing to fight.

21. Greg Franklin

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 109

In fact, he ranks third on the power ranking list of top UFC referees.Greg FranklinWatch: Referee Marc Goddard Debunks The Biggest Myths About MMA ReffingThe article delves into the controversies that have surrounded some UFC referees, including specific instances where calls were called into question and demands for reform.Smith also has excellent communication skills, which help him ensure consistent and impartial calls during fights. In 2021, he was rated as the fourth best UFC referee by FanSided, further solidifying his reputation as one of the top officials in the sport today.

20. Steve Mazzagatti

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 459

Yves Lavigne stands out as one of the top referees in the UFC due to his experienced decision-making skills and expertise in MMA rules. He has been refereeing fights for over two decades and has become a familiar face to those who follow the sport.Lavigne’s impressive knowledge of grappling techniques helps him ensure clean breaks where appropriate. His impartiality in the Octagon keeps both fighters on their toes throughout every moment of the match.WATCH: UFC Referee Mark Smith on Early StoppagesHis outstanding communication skills ensure that fighters understand his instructions clearly, contributing to safe and fair outcomes in each bout he officiates.

19. Kevin Mulhall

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 100

Featuring legendary names like Herb Dean, John McCarthy, and Marc Goddard alongside rising stars in officiating such as Jason Herzog and Mike Beltran, this comprehensive list covers those who’ve excelled inside the cage while upholding its rigorous rules.Yves LavigneOne noteworthy example of his professionalism occurred during a bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 125 when he effectively communicated with both fighters throughout each round, contributing to a fair outcome despite it being a tightly contested match.

18. Kevin Sataki

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 70+

Kevin Mulhall is a highly respected figure in the world of MMA, known for his exceptional skills as one of the best UFC referees. With a keen understanding of the intricate rules and regulations governing combat sports, Mulhall has been instrumental in ensuring both fighter safety and impartiality during intense UFC fights.Additionally, good referees enforce rules impartially for both parties involved in the fight so that each fighter has an equal opportunity at winning.A crucial aspect of having skilled and unbiased UFC referees is that it upholds the integrity of the sport. The role of a referee in MMA fights is to ensure that fighters follow the rules and regulations, maintain safety standards, and avoid unsportsmanlike conduct.

17. Steve Perceval

  • Nationality: Australian
  • Number of Fights: 200+

Rosenthal’s meticulous knowledge and execution of rules make him a favorite among fans and fighters alike. One example of his expertise was during the 2010 fight between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin where he made an accurate decision that ultimately led to Lesnar retaining his heavyweight title.Kevin Macdonald is one of the best UFC referees known for his swift and confident decisions in the octagon. He has been a part of numerous high-profile fights, including Brock Lesnar’s victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200.Herb Dean is considered the best UFC referee of all time. He has officiated some of the most iconic MMA fights in history, and his record speaks for itself.

16. Jacob Montalvo

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 150+

Perceval’s expertise extends beyond refereeing, as he is also an experienced judge who has worked on some of MMA’s biggest events such as Bellator 206. His understanding of MMA regulations and years of experience make him one of the most respected officials in combat sports today.Jacob MontalvoMark Smith is a highly respected UFC referee who has officiated some of the sport’s biggest fights. He is known for his in-depth knowledge of MMA rules and regulations and swift, confident decision-making.In recent years, some high-profile incidents have put the spotlight on referee decisions that resulted in questionable outcomes or even injuries to fighters.Jason Herzog is widely regarded as one of the best UFC referees in the sport today. With over 100 fights officiated, he has established himself as a trustworthy and impartial referee who consistently makes sound decisions.

15. Kevin Macdonald

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 300+

Some criticized Goddard’s handling of the situation and questioned his impartiality.Dean’s reputation as an excellent referee goes beyond just UFC; he has also worked with other promotions such as Strikeforce and Bellator. His extensive experience in mixed martial arts combined with consistent and impartial calls makes him stand out from others on the list of top-rated referees.Peterson is highly regarded for his consistent calls and impartial nature while maintaining professionalism throughout each fight he oversees. He pays attention to details that may be missed by other refs, ensuring fighters’ safety and upholding the integrity of MMA regulations at all times.

14. Josh Rosenthal

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 480

Similarly, Steve Mazzagatti was widely criticized for not stopping a fight when Kimbo Slice knocked out James Thompson despite Thompson’s ear being almost completely severed.Over the past few years, he has been responsible for several high-profile bouts featuring big names like Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, and Amanda Nunes.

13. Leon Roberts

  • Nationality: English
  • Number of Fights: 300+
Leon Roberts
Leon Roberts / Instagram

Some have called for stricter training requirements for referees, as well as more transparency in their decision-making process. Others argue that technological advances could be used to aid officials in making better calls.Through this article, we’ve highlighted some of the top-rated MMA officials who consistently make swift and impartial calls while upholding safety standards.Chris Tognoni is a respected UFC referee known for his capable handling of the Octagon. He has been refereeing MMA fights since 2006 and made his UFC debut in 2010.

12. Kerry Hatley

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 150+

Although not as well-known as some other high-profile MMA officials such as Herb Dean or Marc Goddard, Greg Franklin’s contributions to upholding fair play and ensuring fighters’ safety should not go unnoticed.An impartial stance implies that the referee has no bias towards any fighter during a match.Kevin Macdonald

11. Keith Peterson

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 500+

For instance, there have been several controversies surrounding UFC referees over their decisions during high-profile fights. One notable example was when Mario Yamasaki allowed Valentina Shevchenko to continue fighting after her opponent suffered serious injuries, which put both fighters at risk.He consistently displays confidence while making decisions during intense matches – something that both fans and fighters appreciate.More recently, Marc Goddard came under fire after an incident at UFC 229 where he ordered Conor McGregor out of the cage during a brawl with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team.With his decisive call, Dean prevented any further harm from being inflicted on Ladd while also making sure that De Randamie didn’t break any rules.

10. Mark Smith

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 500+

Jacob MontalvoGoddard is known for his no-nonsense approach inside the octagon, with fans often praising him for making swift and clear decisions during fights. His ability to maintain control over intense situations has earned him recognition from both fighters and spectators alike.A good UFC referee must possess an in-depth understanding of the rules and regulations that govern MMA fights. These officials must be able to quickly identify illegal moves, assess fouls, and make critical decisions accurately.Dan Miragliotta is an experienced UFC referee who has been active in the sport since 2006. He has officiated numerous high-profile fights, including championship bouts featuring top fighters like Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

9. Mike Beltran

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 400+

One example was during the Valentina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira fight at UFC Fight Night 125 where Yamasaki allowed the fight to continue despite Cachoeira taking severe punishment for several minutes leading to many calling it one of worst decisions made by a referee in UFC history.Josh Rosenthal is among the top UFC referees today, known for his swift and confident calls. He has officiated some of the biggest fights in MMA history and gained a reputation as one of the most reliable officials in the sport.While controversies surrounding UFC referees continue to exist, it’s essential to recognize the importance of highly skilled and unbiased officials in ensuring the integrity of the sport remains intact.Sataki’s swift decisions and effective communication skills make him stand out as a referee. His consistent calls ensure that fighters are always safe, while also keeping up with the pace of the fight.

8. Yves Lavigne

  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Number of Fights: 305

Greg FranklinA successful UFC referee should possess excellent communication skills and a deep understanding of MMA rules and regulations. They must be able to remain calm under pressure and consistently make accurate calls that prioritize fighter safety above all else.In the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts, having the best UFC referees is critical to ensure a fair and safe fight for everyone involved.Steve Mazzagatti

7. Marc Goddard

  • Nationality: English
  • Number of Fights: 700+

Without quality referees, fights can quickly turn into dangerous situations where injuries are likely. Referees play an essential role in protecting fighters against unnecessary harm by stopping a fight when they see signs of fatigue or significant injury.Mike Beltran is one of the most famous UFC referees of all time. He has been a referee for over 20 years and has officiated some of the biggest fights in MMA history.Some UFC referees have found themselves in the middle of controversies over the years, with some even calling for a reform in officiating. Veteran referee Herb Dean has faced criticism from fans and fighters alike for stopping fights too late, while Mario Yamasaki has been accused of allowing fights to go on for too long, resulting in unnecessary harm to fighters.

6. Jason Herzog

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 700+

Leon Roberts is undoubtedly one of the best UFC referees in MMA history. Hailing from England, Roberts has been officiating in the Octagon for over a decade and has overseen some of the sport’s most significant fights.Kerry Hatley is a well-respected UFC referee who has officiated numerous high-profile fights. He has been an MMA referee since 2011 and joined the UFC’s roster of officials in 2016.Another important characteristic of a good UFC referee is their outstanding communication skills. Referees must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with both the fighters in the octagon and the audience watching at home or in the arena.

5. John McCarthy

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 946
John Mccarthy
John Mccarthy

One example of this was when Herb Dean stopped a fight between Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd after just 16 seconds into their match due to De Randamie landing several heavy strikes on Ladd.One of the most important roles of a UFC referee is to ensure the safety and fairness of fights.Kevin Sataki is one of the top-rated referees in MMA. He has been an Octagon official since 2012 and has refereed hundreds of fights, including many main events for the UFC.His swift yet deliberate decisions have made him one of the most trusted referees, having overseen some of the sport’s biggest fights.

4. Mario Yamasaki

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Number of Fights: 400+
Mario Yamasaki
Mario Yamasaki

Fans appreciate his impartiality when making crucial decisions, such as stopping a fight or awarding points to deserving fighters.He took center stage at UFC 251 when he made an impeccable call on Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal’s main event match-up, which saw Usman emerge victorious via unanimous decision.Fans have come to appreciate Lavigne’s approachable style, including when he takes action towards ensuring fighter safety above all else.

3. Chris Tognoni

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 586+

To ensure a fair fight, referees must also be able to interpret subtle behaviors such as the shifting balance of power between fighters during a match.Controversies surrounding UFC referees are not uncommon, and they often arise when a referee makes a controversial call or fails to intervene when necessary. One such instance occurred during the UFC 229 bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, where referee Herb Dean was criticized for allowing the fight to continue beyond its natural endpoint.Overall, having top-rated referees who prioritize fairness and safety helps maintain the credibility of MMA as a legitimate sport while ensuring its continued growth and popularity among fans worldwide.

2. Dan Miragliotta

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 700+
Dan Miragliotta
Dan Miragliotta

But thanks to Hatley’s swift action, he was able to accurately rule that it was unintentional and allowed the fight to continue without any controversy or confusion.Jacob Montalvo is a highly experienced referee who has officiated in some of the biggest fights in UFC history. His ability to remain calm under pressure and make swift and accurate decisions has earned him the respect of fighters and fans alike.Macdonald’s impressive communication skills have earned him respect from fighters, coaches, and fans alike. His consistent and impartial calls during matches ensure fairness to all parties involved.

1. Herb Dean

  • Nationality: American
  • Number of Fights: 1,600+
Herb Dean
Herb Dean

A good UFC referee should possess an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations, make swift and confident decisions, have consistent and impartial calls, and outstanding communication skills.Mario Yamasaki is an experienced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and professional MMA referee. He has been in the business since 2000 and has officiated numerous UFC fights.Overall, clear communication skills are essential for any UFC referee looking to make fair and impartial calls that benefit both fighter safety and the integrity of MMA as a sport.In fact, many argue that clear communication can prevent controversies that arise from misunderstandings or confusion about calls made during fights. For example, top-ranked referee Herb Dean has been praised for his ability to calmly communicate with fighters during bouts, ensuring they understand why he stopped a fight or what they are being penalized for.

Characteristics of A Good UFC Referee

Referees who have less experience or lack extensive knowledge on rule application can compromise athlete safety during fights by failing to intervene when necessary or provide incorrect decision-making outcomes.

In-depth Knowledge Of Rules And Regulations

The top UFC referees include renowned names like Herb Dean, John McCarthy, and Marc Goddard who are known for their impeccable knowledge of the sport’s rules and regulations.Big John McCarthy: 25+ Years of MMA Ref StoriesHaving skilled and unbiased UFC referees is crucial for the safety and fairness of MMA fights, as well as upholding the integrity of the sport. Without them, controversies may arise, leading to calls for reform in event management and officiating.

Swift And Confident Decisions

Martial arts fans may particularly remember Steve Mazzagatti for officiating renowned bouts like Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir at UFC 81 and Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin at UFC 77.One of Hatley’s most notable moments came during the heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier at UFC 252. In the third round, Miocic landed an eye poke on Cormier, causing him to briefly pause the match.The sport of MMA has seen its fair share of controversies surrounding the performance of UFC referees. This has led to a growing demand for reform in officiating standards, with fans and experts alike calling for stricter enforcement of rules and regulations.

Consistent And Impartial Calls

With over 500 fights under his belt, Herb Dean’s expertise in combat sports cannot be questioned. He is known for his swift and confident decisions inside the Octagon, ensuring fighter safety while maintaining fairness.Tognoni’s expertise lies in making swift and confident decisions, ensuring that fighters’ safety is always a top priority.Roberts is also recognized for his extensive knowledge of MMA regulations, ensuring that fighters adhere to fight rules and maintain safety standards during every bout.

Outstanding Communication Skills

Herb Dean: The Hardest Job in the WorldConsistency and impartiality are essential characteristics of a good UFC referee. Consistent calls mean that the referee makes the same call in similar situations throughout the fight, making it easier for fighters to anticipate what is expected of them.Referees will monitor fighters throughout a match for any signs that they may be in danger or unable to protect themselves against their opponent’s attacks. If they believe this is happening, they will step in and end the fight before it escalates further.

Controversies Surrounding UFC Referees

Throughout his journey as an MMA official, Mulhall’s dedication to upholding integrity within the sport has helped him garner accolades from fans and fighters alike.

Analysis Of Specific Instances

One example of an unbiased decision was when Herb Dean officiated the infamous Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov fight in 2018. When Khabib jumped out of the octagon after submitting McGregor, Dean objected with strength, cautioning security personnel to be gentle with him since he didn’t pose an immediate danger to anyone outside of the cage.Aside from his physical attributes, Miragliotta is also highly regarded for his ability to make swift and decisive calls during fights. He demonstrates a deep understanding of MMA rules and regulations while maintaining consistency and impartiality throughout a match.

Demands For Reform

One notable moment in Tognoni’s career was when he officiated the fight between Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz at UFC 207. In this championship match, Tognoni kept control of the bout with his effective communication skills, allowing both fighters to showcase their skills while keeping them safe from injury.Steve Perceval is one of the top-rated UFC referees in MMA. He has been officiating fights for over a decade and has gained a reputation for his swift and impartial decisions.Herzog’s expertise extends beyond UFC fights; he has also served as an official for other major MMA organizations like Bellator and World Series of Fighting. In addition, he teaches courses to aspiring referees and judges, passing on his knowledge to the next generation of MMA officials.Jason Herzog

Notable UFC Referees With Controversies

[embedded content]Perceval is known for being consistent, ensuring that all fighters adhere to the rules set out by the UFC.Yes, controversial decisions can certainly impact fighters’ careers as well as their reputations within the industry. This is why having experienced, trustworthy referees officiating matches is so essential – it ensures fairness for both competitors involved while protecting them from unnecessary harm or injury during fights.

Importance Of Skilled And Unbiased UFC Referees

Some of the most highly regarded UFC referees include Herb Dean, Marc Goddard, Jason Herzog and Mike Beltran. These individuals have proven themselves to be knowledgeable about fight rules and regulations while also being able to make quick, decisive calls during intense fighting situations.

Ensuring Safety And Fairness Of Fights

Another notable UFC referee who has made significant contributions to the sport is Marc Goddard. He is a highly respected official in the MMA community, having officiated many high-profile bouts over the years.His calm demeanor, attention to detail, and excellent communication skills make him one of the most respected referees in the business.Steve Mazzagatti stands tall in the list of top UFC referees, with a career spanning several years and numerous high-profile fights under his belt. Known for his attentive demeanor and calm presence inside the octagon, Mazzagatti has earned a well-deserved spot among MMA’s most respected officials.

Upholding The Integrity Of The Sport

In the high-stakes world of mixed martial arts, the role of a referee is crucial in maintaining fairness, safety, and integrity within the Octagon. With careers and reputations on the line during each bout, it’s imperative to have knowledgeable and unbiased officials overseeing every match-up.In MMA, fights happen fast and the action can be intense. That’s why it’s crucial for referees to make quick decisions with conviction. A good MMA referee is able to read the situation and react quickly, making swift calls that are both fair and in line with the rules of the sport.Despite facing controversies along the way, such as accusations of late stoppages or questionable decisions, Mazzagatti remains a familiar face within top-rated MMA events.


1. Who are the top UFC referees in the industry?

For instance, Mario Yamasaki became a lightning rod for criticism after his handling of fights that ended with brutal knockouts or submission holds that went on too long.

2. What makes a successful UFC referee?

John McCarthy is a legendary UFC referee who has been an integral part of MMA history. He was one of the first referees in UFC and is widely regarded as one of the best ever.

3. How do referees determine when to stop a fight?

Mark Smith

4. Can controversial decisions made by referees affect fighter careers?

Beltran has made some controversial decisions during his career as well, but overall he is respected as a fair and knowledgeable referee. He has shown great attention to detail, ensuring fighter safety while remaining impartial in close fights.


Greg Franklin is a highly respected and experienced UFC referee known for his fair judgment and expert knowledge of the sport. With a reputable background in martial arts, he has demonstrated exceptional officiating skills throughout his career, earning him a spot on our list of best UFC referees.One memorable moment came during UFC 166 when he allowed Cain Velasquez to pummel Junior Dos Santos unmercifully before finally stepping in to stop the fight.Keith Peterson is a highly respected referee in UFC who has undoubtedly earned his spot among the top-ranked officials. He boasts remarkable experience in officiating combat sports events, boasting over 20 years of refereeing for MMA and grappling competitions.

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