MMA referee Herb Dean has come under fire after a controversial stoppage in the Renan Barao and Uriah Faber fight. After being grounded by Barao, Faber turtled up, guarded his head and grabbed Barao’s leg. Faber even went as far as giving Dean a thumbs up to show that he was in no trouble, but the contest was still stopped at the 3:42 mark of the first round. Almost instantly the criticisms began on social media sites, and even White himself, who has in the past praised Dean for his work in the cage, stated that he thought he had made a mistake.
Now I’m not saying that I agree with the call, I’m with the majority and think that it was stopped too early, but I respect him enough to not be overly critical about it. Herb Dean has been a part of thousands of fights, has been a notable figure in the sport since its infancy and is one of the most respected referees out there. He has won referee of the year in the World MMA Awards four consecutive times making him the only winner since the awards were started. Also being a former fighter himself he knows what it is like from both sides and what to watch for. My point is that this guy knows what he is doing. He’s able to see things and make ninja quick educated decisions, a skill that not many other refs have, aside from maybe Big John McCarthy.
Dean’s skills can be seen on several different occasions, for example when Tim Silvia fought Frank Mir and suffered a broken arm. It was Dean who stopped the fight despite Silvia not tapping out. Also in the Cro Cop and Gonzaga fight after the crushing kick that ended the fight you can see Dean unpinning Cro Cops foot which was left and a very bad angle. And again when Paulo Thiago put Mike Swick to sleep Dean quickly noticed he was out and stopped the fight. It’s snap decisions like those that set him apart from the rest and show that he truly has the fighter’s safety in mind.
So maybe fans (myself included) should give it a little more thought before we get our pitchforks and torches and start an angry mob the next time we don’t agree with a call, except of course if it’s from Mazzagatti. It’s easy to bad mouth refs or judges in this sport but nothing about what they do is easy and we’re lucky to have someone as talented as Herb Dean doing his job and doing it well.His next big assignments will come on February 22 when he oversees the title fight between Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann at UFC 170.