Firat Gök, centre, refereeing at the GAMMA European Championships in Ukraine in November ©GAMMA

Turkish referee Firat Gök has described the mixed martial arts (MMA) community as "a second family" as he continues his rise through the Global Association of Mixed Martial Arts (GAMMA) refereeing ranks.

After an impressive performance at the European Championships in Kyiv, Ukraine in November last year, Gök attracted the attention of GAMMA’s chief referee Michael Watcher.

Watcher invited Gök to be a part of the referees and judges team at a professional mixed martial arts league event in Uzbekistan earlier this month.

The European Championships in Kyiv coincided with Gök’s 27th birthday, although the official said he did not regret the decision to work at the event.

"This job is important to me and I see these people who are part of my job as my family, and as a result, I would spend my birthday with another family," Gök said, in an interview with the GAMMA website.

After receiving an invitation to officiate in Uzbekistan from Watcher, Gök said he was "honoured."

"It was an indescribable feeling to start seeing the results of my individual, team and federation efforts over the years and that I was taking important steps towards my goals," Gök added.

Gök, a serving police officer, became interested in MMA as a teenager.

He previously participated in muaythai, but switched to MMA in 2016 after a meeting with the President of the Turkish MMA Federation Ali Arik.

"It was then I started in MMA, attending seminars and training, which I still continue to this day," said Gök.

"When I met Ali Arik, he supported, informed and inspired me about this job.

"He and the Turkish MMA Federation gave me and the other candidates so many seminars and trainings.

"In addition, the Turkish MMA Federation has organised so many amateur events in its first few years.

"In the following years, Ali Arik and we, as the MMA Federation, organised many small and large professional events in Turkey.

"All these and many other things that I cannot count have led to my development as a referee."

Gök said that the best thing about officiating was the satisfaction of getting the big calls right.

"Even without getting their acknowledgement and respect, just seeing that I made and implemented the right decisions at critical places reminds me of why I am doing this job, and it satisfies me," said Gök.