It’s not easy being an MMA referee.
When the cage door closes it must be a lonely place knowing that they are the only person standing between two fired-up fighters ready to go to war.
The two fighters safety is always a referee’s primary concern during a fight, but as you’ll see in this article, all it takes is for one angry, adrenaline-fueled combatant to disagree with a call they make in the cage and suddenly it’s their own safety that’s in jeopardy.
That’s led to some nasty incidents over the years, though don’t be fooled – just because referees aren’t wearing gloves and a mouthpiece doesn’t mean they can’t fight, and you might be surprised to see how many of them can more than hold their own when it’s time to restore order in the Octagon!
Atilla Kubilay became an instant villain in the sport after his appaling behavior both before and during his fight with Richard Bowkett at Cage Rage 11 in 2005.
As UK referee Grant Waterman brought the two fighters together in the center of the cage to receive their final instructions prior to the fight, Kubilay suddenly punched his opponent square in the face.
That should have been an instant disqualification, but he was extremely fortunate that Bowkett was still able to continue, and that officials decided that the fight could go ahead.
Despite being warned about his behavior, Kubilay hadn’t learned his lesson, and early in the first round he began landing illegal knees to the head of his downed opponent.
Waterman’s initial attempts to pull Kubilay off Bowkett failed, and so he had to apply a standing rear-naked choke to end the assault, bringing the thug to his knees as other officials rushed in to help him out.
Kubilay only fought one more time before his career came to an abrupt halt.