A referee should be allowed a few little mistakes along the way. Maybe a slightly late or slightly early stoppage, but only a few. What we've seen from referee Kim Winslow is a multitude of embarrassing mistakes, sometimes risking a fighter's health, and other times risking their career success. Her pitiful flubs have been well documented and have been criticized by God knows how many sources, and yet there is no end in sight, no condemnation by officials. Only resentment from fighters and fans alike.
She has shown tendencies to make critical errors at the worst of times. Some may claim that she needs to keep learning. In this case, she should invest some time in actually learning about the sport she is paid to referee. Professional fights are not meant to be a referee's platform to 'learn', even at the lowest levels of competition. Having a referee with dismal knowledge of what they are officiating is not fair to the fighters. It's not fair to the viewers. Not to mention, she can single handedly ruin careers with her actions. A fighter who is told that Kim Winslow will be officiating his or her fight should seriously worry about their own health and their opponent's.
Last night, she struck again at The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale. The bout was the first of the night and featured John Albert vs. Erik Perez. The fight was prematurely stopped when after being caught in a tight triangle choke for a long part of the round, Erik Perez escaped and got Albert into a tight armbar. She only allowed the submission to be held for a matter of seconds before stepping in, and Albert never tapped out.
Albert was in the process of escaping, but was robbed of his opportunity to do so, as apparently Kim Winslow had seen enough. This was not her choice to make. Albert was actively defending, and while he may have been grimacing, a referee should have enough knowledge of the sport to know that a fighter is about to attempt to escape a submission. If he was going to let his arm break from the hold, then so be it. It was not for her to decide.
Of course, this is just one of numerous occasions where she has drawn scrutiny. She has shown to make terrible decisions on both regional platforms and on big stages.
In another one of her well-known mess ups, Kim shows no regard for Jan Finney's health as she takes hit after hit from Cris "Cyborg" Santos at their Strikeforce fight. Finney clearly had nothing left, yet Kim allowed Cyborg to continue dropping punch after punch and even a few knees to the side. For some strange reason, she drew the line at a couple of back of the head punches and separated the two, and for a minute Cyborg had rightfully thought she won. Kim then restarts the fight and allows the unnecessary barrage to continue, well after it should have been stopped, with Jan even being "saved by the bell" (or perhaps doomed by it) and finished in the next round.
Such an atrocity should at least mean a suspension from refereeing. It shows incompetence and lack of knowledge. Essentially, a referee's job is to protect a fighter's health. Nothing more, nothing less. Kim shows time and time again that she is unable to accomplish this task, and I would never entrust her to be present in another MMA fight. Did she show that here? No, she showed complete disregard for a clearly beaten fighter's health and let a fight continue long past when it should have been over, and that is completely outrageous.
More recently, Kim has drawn huge criticism from a fighter that had to deal with her incompetence. King Mo was very vocal about how bad her stoppage was of Lorenz Larkin at their fight at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine. He landed shot after unanswered shot, which eventually amounted to about fifteen hard strikes when Larkin clearly had had enough.
Mo was very adamant about the stoppage, and in multiple interviews explains his stance.
When a professional fighter can say that he is unhappy about a win (but now turned over to a NC) because he didn't want to continue hitting his opponent, something is clearly not right. Although King Mo has been noted to cross the proverbial line occasionally through how he expresses himself, he was entirely justified here. Lorenz had to go through far more head trauma than necessary, and that is unacceptable when it is the referee's job to prevent this.
In yet another instance of complete lack of regard for fighter safety, Winslow showed her tried and true method of stopping a fight way to late in the Ronda Rousey vs. Julia Budd fight at Strikeforce Challengers 20. Some may say this contradicts my original point about John Albert vs. Erik Perez, but after the two rolled over and Budd's arm was clearly hyper extended and injured, she takes almost five seconds to stop the fight, waiting for the tap. If a fighter's arm is clearly damaged, the fight should be stopped, no questions asked.
She allowed Julia Budd's arm to be in more jeopardy than it had to be in, waiting far too long to end the fight when clearly it should've been over. This again shows lack of knowledge of the sport, and a clear case of blatant disregard for fighter safety. Such actions should have at least some minor form of penalization.
Despite her notable experience of stopping fights long after they should've been stopped, Winslow also has made stoppages far too early. As I referred to before, John Albert vs. Erik Perez was stopped unacceptably early. On a regional circuit, she again was guilty of this when refereeing a bout between Michal Orzel and Jordan WIlliams. As you can see from the embedded youtube video, shortly after she stopped the fight, Orzel bounced right back up and shot for a takedown, not knowing that the fight had been stopped. The punch didn't lay him stiff or limp, and he clearly still had it in him to continue the fight. The stoppage was probably among the worst I've seen, and as you can see from the crowd response, I'm not alone.
When it comes to cases like this, with two generally unknown fighters at a regional fight, people may brush it off as nothing. People think that relegating referees to regional shows is good for them to get some experience. That is completely unacceptable. When you see fights like these, where they are being paid very little, everything matters. If a fighter is robbed of his chance to win a fight in a promotion that can't afford to be as generous as Dana White, that fighter will not receive a win bonus that he plausibly could've come back to earn. Let's say you have a struggling fighter that is taking fights just to pay the bills, and we can see that this is completely unacceptable. The stoppage of Orzel vs. Williams isn't even a matter of "a little to early". It was stopped very prematurely, when both men still had a lot more fight in them. Now a fighter like Orzel has a loss added to his record, and his momentum and success were impeded. I'm not saying he was destined for great things, but in such an unfair instance, different situations should not be overlooked.
My final example of her complete ineptitude at refereeing is from a fight between Dakota Cochrane and Cory Simpson. The fight can be found here. Cochrane gets back control on Cory in the second round, and begins to work for a choke. As he is working for it, Kim steps in, taps his arm, and ends the fight. This, again, is a horribly early stoppage. Dakota's hands weren't even clasped as she stopped the fight. This shows mind boggling lack of knowledge and a complete lack of skill as an MMA ref.
So far, I have focused mostly on some very bad stoppages, but her faults as a referee go far beyond that. In many fights she has been involved in, she has made some very odd decisions. These range from badly timed stand ups and clinch breaks, to knee jerk point deductions for iffy fouls. She is not always articulate when explaining things to fighters or other officials. Overall, I find myself noticing more mistakes than not in fights she is reffing for, and that is something pretty unprecedented. Sure, there may be some people that may disagree, but for the most part, her officiating has been below par, and that's just not fair to anyone involved.
Kim has shown time and time again that she does not have the knowledge to ever become what we consider to be a good referee. She will undoubtably continue to have awful showings, yet I doubt anything will be done about it. She has gone on with horrible stoppages and odd calls for far too long. All of this without a single negative peep from officiating bodies. There will be no suitable platform for her to ever learn, as it is unfair to the people who have her as a ref no matter what level they are fighting at. With such a case, it would be better for her to find some other form of employment. To use her own words: "being a referee is also about having the "it" factor. Some people have it and some don't." She conforms to the latter.