LEAVE KIM ALONE!: Why Kim Winslow-Bashing Brings out the Worst in MMA Fans

When I went online Monday morning, I was expecting a certain amount of…oh, what’s the word…irrational hand wringing over the actions of MMA referee Kim Winslow.

Full disclosure: I didn’t actually see the Strikeforce card this past weekend for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that I’m in Mexico, where a Showtime subscription is rarer than an honest police officer (trust me on that one). But, like the true fan that I am (my eyes are rolling too, don’t worry), I’ve since watched the night’s fights online. I’m fully caught up on the awful officiating atrocities that went down Saturday night.

And let’s get this out the door now: there is cause for complaint in the refereeing of Kim Winslow. No doubt about it. The argument can be made both that she made improper stand-ups and stopped the fight too late in the Muhammed Lawal vs. Lorenz Larkin fight. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by pretending her actions were entirely beyond reproach. There’s room for argument there and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Fun fact: not an MMA event goes by without SOMEONE in my group of watchers complaining about the actions of the referee AT LEAST once. Once per fight, that is.

You know the scene: you’re watching the fights with your friends, beer in hand, smile on face, nacho cheese stain on Xtreme Couture sweater-vest (I wish). The fight is fun, the action rollicking. Best part – the guy you and your friends kinda sorta want to win because he’s from your country, or has a funny nickname, or is Clay Guida, is winning.

Then all of a sudden, just when your boy is on top and whaling away, the referee stands the the token Brazilian guy/Jesse “The Water” Bongfeldt/Clay Guida up.

“That’s bullshit!” your friend, who’s had a couple Pabst’s and is feeling froggy, shouts at the screen. “That’s BS! F*ckin ref! Mario Yamasaki/Dan Miragliotta/Yves Lavigne/whoever is the worst ref in MMA!”

And so it goes. Fan b*tching about refereeing is nothing new in sports. You need only attend any Yankees game, any Montreal Canadiens game, any Manchester United game, or any gathering of people in the city of Philadelphia to see folks spewing absolutely outrageous hatred towards referees. It’s an institution in sports, one I wouldn’t want to see go away no matter how much eye rolling it inspires. Referees aren’t kings and questioning their calls – especially when they’re dead wrong – is part of what keeps them honest.

Remember the night referee Yves Lavignes completely bungled the Phillipe Nover – Kyle Bradley stoppage? Remember how fans in the arena booed Yves with a passion every time his face was shown on screen for the rest of the night? Remember how fans were calling Yves “the worst referee in MMA” on MMA blogs and forums? Remember how Yves had to publicly apologize for his actions to fans?

Yeah, me neither. That’s because, like the rest of the MMA world, it was out of my mind by the time I was having my Monday morning coffee. I also don’t remember how Yves once got in seriously hot water for calling Josh Koscheck scared for not standing and trading with Paul Daley.

In a similar vein, I’m having trouble recalling the night Dan Miragliotta basically gave Kimbo Slice the fight against James Thompson in the closest thing to a worked fight I’ve ever seen in MMA. I’m also a little foggy on the night Steve Mazzagatti stopped Brock Lesnar from jerking off Frank Mir’s nose in his UFC debut and no less an MMA authority than Dana White called Steve “the worst referee in MMA”.

In every one of those cases, the story was almost a non-story. Sure, us fans stomped our feet and hollered to the high heavens – for a few minutes, at least. Then we got over it. Far as I know, Yves, Steve, and Dan are all still MMA officials, and no one is calling for their resignations.

Yet, we’re still talking about Kim Winslow on Wednesday, practically an eternity for referee b*tching. And what’s more, we have fighters coming out of the woodwork, using the Winslow-shaped straw man (straw woman?) as an excuse for their own loss. Trevor Smith seems to feel Winslow’s actions in the Lawal fight were a reaction to her early stoppage in his own fight. Yeah, that sure sounds nice…

I’m going to go ahead and throw the gauntlet down right here: the reason we’re even still talking about Kim Winslow is because she’s a woman. Plain and simple. When a man screws up in a high-testosterone “man’s” sport (and it is, just ask “Cyborg” Santos), it’s a story for five minutes. We b*tch, we feel better, we move on to the next thing.

But when it’s a woman who screws up, the criticism and complaints take on a whole new energy – not to mention a decidedly sexist tone.

Not to get too basic on you, but sh*t happens. Mistakes are made. Just because “Big” John McCarthy ignored Jake Shield’s repeated grabbing of the trunks against Martin Kampmann doesn’t make him any less the best referee ever. Just because Steve Mazzagatti deducted a point for strikes to the back of Mir’s head without first warning Brock doesn’t mean he secretly hates guys from North Dakota. Just because Yves and Dan and all the rest made mistakes – big ones – doesn’t mean they have “no business being in MMA” like many have said of Kim Winslow.

Everyone makes mistakes, to err is human, and all that. Kim Winslow made a mistake officiating Saturday night, meaning she now joins the proud ranks of every MMA official ever, in the history of always.

Time to move on, folks.

27 Responses to “ LEAVE KIM ALONE!: Why Kim Winslow-Bashing Brings out the Worst in MMA Fans ”

  1. Jamie Locke says:

    Elton in Mexico… Gossip Queen in Mexico…. Coincidence?

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  2. eastcoastwarrior says:

    “I’m having trouble recalling the night Dan Miragliotta basically gave Kimbo Slice the fight against James Thompson in the closest thing to a worked fight I’ve ever seen in MMA.”
    – clearly you have not seen Dr. John Williams vs Larry Burbaker fight at Elite1 in moncton. Id direct you to a video but Williams has taken it down due to the overwhelming amount of comments regarding this fixed fight

    Well-loved! Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. harry balls says:

    these columns never disappoint.

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  4. Billy Smith says:

    I bet Carl Winslow would have made the better call.

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  5. Bobby Karimi says:

    Stopped reading after I read this…

    Full disclosure: I didn’t actually see the Strikeforce card this past weekend

    Well-loved! Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  6. alex says:

    I’m almost amazed you were able to pump out an article of this length without having seen the footage that birthed the topic.


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  7. CM says:

    If I see Kim reffing, I have the same reaction I do when I see Cecil Peoples in there. I get a “please don’t f*ck up again” kind of feeling. It has nothing to do with her being female, it’s the amount of mistakes she makes. There seem to be too many too often from her, especially for someone working at the UFC/Strikeforce level.

    There’s no such thing a as perfect ref as they all have their share of screw-ups. One of the biggest differences, to me, is that the other refs mentioned all have their share of great calls to balance things out a bit.

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  8. eastcoastwarrior says:

    “I’ve since watched the night’s fights online. I’m fully caught up on the awful officiating atrocities that went down Saturday night.”

    stating he saw the footage before writing the article…

    Well-loved! Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. Elton Hobson says:

    @Bobby Karimi, Alex

    You guys make the internet fun, you know that? Stay classy gents.

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  10. Elton Hobson says:

    @CM Since writing this article, I’ve had more than a few folks tell me exactly the same thing you did…that even the sight of Kim Winslow reffing a fight makes them nervous. From my point of view and my experience, she’s no worse than any other ref but maybe there is something to it…

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  11. Donald Duck says:

    @CM – Some of us with long memories remember when we’d have the same reaction to seeing Yves in the ring. Don’t get me wrong he’s improved but in all that is sweet and cinnamon sprinkled he’s made some major errors in the past. At this moment in time the only ref I really feel comfortable seeing in there is Josh Rosenthall.

    I was happy to see that even the venerable BJM was not free from critique in this article. While John is a trail blazer and has done amazing work in standardizing training he is not immune to making errors in the ring.

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  12. Bobby Karimi says:

    Thanks Elton, I’m always fuckin classy! Now go watch Strikeforce! :)

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  13. booboo says:


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  14. Rex says:

    She has no business reffing fights

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  15. booboo says:

    @ELTON u must have a thing for the scarecrow! cause she SUCKS !

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  16. EPerez says:

    If Jaws from James Bond had a sister, she would look like Kim.

    Well-loved! Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  17. Elton Hobson says:

    @Bobby Karimi I DID!!!!

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  18. Elton Hobson says:

    @booboo well actually, the Scarecrow is one of my favourite Batman villains…

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Most refs have not competed in MMA let alone any other Combative Sports, thus the Comissions are to blame. I mean look at MMA its regulated by ABC, boxing! This sport is still growing, evolving and these are the growing pains, there be more hot topics like this with all the shows Zuffa had alone!

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  20. Editor says:

    FYI: Many people think Kim doesn’t train; in fact she has trained in martial arts.

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  21. Donald Duck says:

    Dear Editor, Cecil Peoples has a 64th degree black belt with a purple sash in Kaa-Rah-Taa and that don’t stop him from f**king up matches.

    Well-loved! Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. Bobby Karimi says:


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  23. Anon says:

    I believe Jan Finney would like to have a word with you, Mr. Hobson.

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  24. Josh Oliveira says:

    Kim Winslow did nothing at the ends of “Lawal vs. Larkin” and “Santos vs. Finney” that Josh Rosenthal didn’t also do during round one of “Lesnar vs. Carwin” — namely, give fighters the opportunity to push through adversity. If anything, that’s Winslow’s defining characteristic as a ref.

    Given how much MMA fans dislike early stoppages and enjoy KO’s, you’d think most would get a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever she steps in the ring!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  25. L-Boutin says:

    Josh – the difference is Lesnar was constantly moving and trying to defend/escape. Larkin was laying down, not moving, not defending, taking bombs. Totally different situation.

    Also, how an you say that’s winslow’s defining characteristic as a ref is giving fighters a chance, when that same night she had a quick stoppage in the Trevor Smith-Gian Villante fight.

    Bottom line, the King Mo-Larkin stoppage took way longer then it should have.

    Well-loved! Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  26. Cam Yallits says:

    Male, Female, martial arts experience or not, every ref makes mistakes. High level refs officiate a high volume of fights, odds are they are not going to be perfect. But she fucked up pretty bad on the only two fights she reffed that were on live TV. Thats bad. Plus, shes really, really fuckin ugly.

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  27. Josh Oliveira says:

    I didn’t personally see the Villante fight, but there will ALWAYS be variation in any ref’s decisions. Still, the book on Winslow definitely remains that she’ll generally let fights go.

    And yeah, Lesnar was moving, but the volume of strikes he absorbed was nuts. If, as Larkin did, Lesnar had gone out at the height of that barrage, everyone and his dog would have called it a “late stoppage.”

    My point, I suppose, is mainly that hindsight is 20/20 and refs have a tough job, but also that most fighters would appreciate the chance to continue until they’re completely out of the fight.

    Was the Larkin stoppage late? Yeah, maybe a bit. But it was no type of travesty.

    The fact that Mo called Winslow out after the fight doesn’t mean much to me, either. He’s always annoyed at somebody! Anyway, his rant merely opened the floodgates for the ensuing barrage of anti-Winslow hate.

    For the record, I agree with the author that much of that hate is thinly veiled misogyny.

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