I agree with you about referees having to make tough decisions. I also thank you for your eloquent and very poignant post. Those are hard to come by, and even if I disagree with them I recognize them for what they are.
I think Rothwell has a legitimate gripe based on the way the fight was stopped. I mean.. he was standing on his own two feet under his own power, and based on his lightning quick reaction of disbelief towards the fight being stopped it is pretty clear he was mentally equipped to go on in the fight. There have been multiple other times when I have agreed with a stoppage, but this was not one.
On the flip side of that coin I'm not going to crucify Mazzagatti for his decision since it was in the fighter's best interest as far as safety is concerned. Besides that I don't normally make a point to crucify any ref. Besides Miragliotta, who I think is the absolute worst ref I've ever seen and an absolute danger to the sport. Or in the case of fights like Matt Brown vs. Pete Sell when it was quite evident Sell was absolutely finished and any further punishment was putting him at a great risk of harm. The difference between that fight and Rothwell's, though was that Rothwell was working his way out of a position and though he was taking shots to the dome he was clearly intelligently defending himself by shoving Cain off of him and standing up from the takedown against the cage. Not to mention he was taking little pepper shots from the clinch from Cain, not absolute bombs like Matt Brown was landing on Pete Sell.
Again, though... what this comes down to is a lack of MMA education on the part of the referees. Do I think a referee has to be a fighter in order to be a good referee? No. Do I think a referee should have at least a solid year of MMA training before he refs? Absolutely.
And anyways, my original point in my original post was a stance of defense for Rothwell's comments. I feel bad for the guy that he didn't at least get to tough out a rough loss or possibly even have his chance to land the one big bomb. A lot of times fighters can gain fans in a loss. Or at least gain fans' respect for their toughness. He didn't even get a chance to do that.