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Refereed by Dan Miragliotta
New Jersey native Dan Miragliotta has refereed more than seventy professional mixed martial arts bouts for the Ultimate Fighting Championship beginning in 2007, plus matchups in EliteXC and Bellator, as well as hundreds of bouts in minor promotions. At 6'4" tall and 295 pounds, "Big" Dan, as he is known to some, is the largest referee in professional MMA. He "out-bigs" even the more well-known "Big" Jon McCarthy (who also stands at 6'4") by a full 50 lbs. Miragliotta's stature and demeanor make him a natural choice for UFC heavyweight bouts, and he has presided over more than one Octagon clash of heavyweight titans, including Fabricio Werdum versus Gabe Gonzaga at UFC 80, and Heath Herring versus Brock Lesnar at UFC 87.
Miragliotta's involvement in martial arts began after a wakeboarding accident at the age of fourteen left him with two broken vertebrae in his neck. He turned to Karate to help regain his motor coordination. Miragliotta went on to gain a black belt in Shito Ryu Karate and a 5th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. He also trains in Muay Thai and Shootfighting, and holds a BJJ blue belt under Renzo Gracie.
Miragliotta covered his first UFC title bout at UFC 101, officiating BJ Penn's successful title defense over Kenny Florian in Philadelphia. His next title affair also came close to home, in Newark, New Jersey, where he presided over Shane Carwin's first round knockout of Frank Mir for the Interim Heavyweight Championship. Finally, Miragliotta reffed Anderson Silva's notorious five round win over Demian Maia to retain his Middleweight Championship at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
Like any seasoned referee, Miragliotta has been criticized for certain performances. Many fans turned the blame to him after Silva's cavalier title defense over Maia, suggesting "Big" Dan could have done more to spur on the action and minimize Silva's antics. He was more heavily criticized for his handling of EliteXC's 2008 Kimbo Slice versus James Thompson main event live on CBS. Miragliotta permitted Slice, at that time a media darling and the key to EliteXC's financial success, to lay on the bottom of unanswered strikes from Thompson for most of the second round. Many believed a TKO stoppage was justified. Miragliotta let Kimbo escape the round, however, and Slice went on to knock Thompson out early in the third, when Miragliotta stopped the action without Thompson having been knocked down.
Miragliotta was also third man in the Octagon during UFC 113's infamous welterweight bout between Josh Koscheck and Paul "Semtex" Daley, in which Daley sucker-punched Koscheck after the final bell had sounded. There, Miragliotta's quick thinking was beyond reproach. On the replay, he can be seen correctly stepping in between the two fighters at the bell, and immediately pulling Daley away after the shot was landed, preventing what could have been an even worse scene. UFC President Dana White bounced Daley from the promotion before the night was through.
Portions of this article draw on information contained in Fight! Magazine's April 29, 2010 interview with Miragliotta, available at http://news.fightmagazine.com/dan-miragliotta-ufc-112-mma-4882/.