Should UFC Referee Herb Dean’s Judgment Be Tested?

Over the weekend, the UFC held its final event at Fight Island nee Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The fight headliner Robert Whitaker decided Darren Till.

However, the real highlight of the night was a verbal confrontation between former fighter and current UFC color commentator, Dan Hardy, and veteran UFC referee Herb Dean.

During the Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jai Herbert fight at UFC on ESPN 14, Dean was the recipient of criticism for a potential late stoppage.

Trinaldo’s third-round TKO of Herbert on Saturday’s card incensed color commentator Dan Hardy who was Dean’s biggest vocal critic after believing he executed a late stop of the fight.

Hardy could be heard yelling for Dean to stop the fight both over the microphone and loud enough for Dean to hear.

Hardy then ripped into Dean for failing to protect downed fighter Herbert during the broadcast and then he crossed the line jumping up and exchanging heated words face-to-face cage side after the contest.

In a muffled clip, Hardy can be heard saying to Dean, “That’s my job. Now do yours.”

Since the heated moment, Hardy has doubled down. He stated social media that he was merely trying to stand up for fighter safety.

In the Office of the Dean

However, on Sunday, Dean defended the stoppage and discussed the situation via video, carefully not mentioning Hardy by name but surgically describing why Hardy’s actions were dangerous.

“What I really want to get into right now is during the match someone yelled out, ‘Stop the fight,’” Dean said on Instagram. “It’s really interesting because there’s only professionals there and there’s not one fan in the building. Everybody has a job there, everybody knows what their job is and they have specific duties.

“I have a job to referee the fight, one of my duties is to stop the fight when the fighter’s taking too much damage. There’s two people who are authorized to advise me during that, to maybe yell out those words, ‘Stop the fight.’

“There’s one, the physician. We have a ringside physician who knows more about the physical body than I do. He’s there to give me advice. If he can’t get my attention maybe he might yell, ‘Stop the fight.’ Then there’s the fighter’s corner. They train with them, they know about them, they know more things about him than I do.

“They may know something I don’t know, so that’s why they would give me some advice to stop the fight. Ultimately to stop the fight is my decision. I don’t know who it was who did it because I was looking at the fight and I had heard it, so I assumed it was either of the two people authorized to do it, the doctor or the corner.”

Dean claims he wasn’t aware that Hardy was the vocal one until he was alerted by someone sitting cage side.

“After the match, I followed up, I asked the physician he said, ‘No, that fight was fine. You were doing perfectly fine with everything you did in that match,’” Dean said. “I didn’t get a chance to ask his corner, but I asked the inspectors, who are in charge of his corner. They said, ‘No. The corner did not yell out to stop the match.’ That means it was someone else, someone else there to do a job. This is a very dangerous thing to do.

“If you put on your Superman shirt and decide that you’re the smartest person in the room, smarter than the physician, smarter than the corner who works with the guy and smarter than the referee, there’s a chance you could bring in information that could do the fighter a disservice.

“I’m looking at the match, I believe I’m getting information from the people qualified to do it. Under no circumstance would I, even as a referee, get up and yell to another referee to stop the match. If I were to do that I would know there would be a situation where I couldn’t live with myself otherwise. I know there could be consequences you would never see me in that position again, but I would sleep well knowing that I’d done that.”

Although the losing fighter, Jai Herbert, put in a strong effort over two rounds, Francisco Trinaldo’s massive punch sent Herbert to the canvas. Could it have been stopped there?

He believes so.

“It could’ve been stopped earlier, but I’m a fighter, not a referee,” Trinaldo said at the post-fight press conference. “I go there to do my job and the referee is the one in charge. I saw and stopped a little bit and waited, but the referee didn’t stop the fight so I continued on. The referee is in charge.”

UFC Senior Vice President David Shaw said that conversations on the issue would continue at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas.

He did intimate that Hardy crossed the line by interacting with Dean during the heated moment.

“I guess the bottom line is there’s one group of people that are able to talk to officials during the fight night, and that’s (Marc) Ratner’s regulatory group and no one else,” said Shaw. “So we’ll see what happens next week when we get back to the office.”

The bottom line, if the comment occurred from a commentator’s position only, its a paid opinion. Hardy crossed the line when he jumped out of the hot seat and into Herb Dean’s Octagon world.

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