Ref explains his actions in Sakara/Cote bout
Miragliotta said a rule forbidding blows to the back of the head was superseded in Cote’s case because most of the hammerfists touched his ear. The referee said he advises all fighters of this distinction in rules meetings prior to fights.
“Even though most of your hand is hitting the back of the head, if your pinkie knuckle is hitting him in the ear, it’s a legal shot,” said Miragliotta. “Maybe that’s what people don’t understand. They said, ‘Oh, it’s the back of the head.’ It is the back of the head, but it’s hitting him in the ear.
“You get a guy like Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar, their hands are so big, when they hit you in the ear, they’re still hitting the mohawk. That whole hand is about five or six inches wide. The earlobe is two inches. So four inches of your hand is hitting that mohawk, and that’s considered a legal strike.”
Miragliotta, though, said he warned Sakara after a hammerfist grazed the back of the downed Cote’s head. The next two or three shots were legal. A second, more clearly illegal blow drew a more stern verbal warning.
“The second one didn’t look bad enough to stop the fight,” Miragliotta said. “In my mind, I’m thinking if he hits the back of the head again, I’m going to stop it and take a point away, or I’ll make it a verbal warning with his translator and let him know I’m going to take a point away.
“Then the next ones were clean. They were clean strikes, and the one that hit him hard was no longer a ‘watch the back of the head.’ It was time to either take points away or stop the fight.”