After referee Keith Peterson halted the UFC 249 Bantamweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz with two seconds remaining in the second because of a “Triple C” onslaught, the long-time official was hit with criticism.
Not only did Cruz feel the stoppage was premature, but the former division kingpin accused Peterson of smelling like cigarettes and alcohol during the bout. It was a serious accusation from Cruz, who says he wishes the promotion drug tested referees.
While Cruz’s frustration with the stoppage is understandable, Peterson’s esteemed colleague, Herb Dean, tells The Schmo that he was around Peterson all day and refutes that he smelled like alcohol and/or cigarettes.
“As far as the accusation, I didn’t smell alcohol on Keith Peterson,” Dean said. “Keith Peterson was around us all day, and I’ll tell you this; if any of us suspect that someone’s been drinking the day of a fight, there’s no way that any official’s going to let that pass. We are going to call someone out, this is a very serious job we do.”
Still, Dean — who is considered among the best referees in the sport — understands that a fighter may say or do things in the heat of the moment, and his past experiences have taught him to just let instances like that slide off his shoulders.
“I excuse really anything fighters say or do in the moment of a loss because people want to compete so bad. And to compete at this level it takes more than anyone knows,” he added. “I’ve had a fighter angry with me, or push me in the moment and I will walk away. And then when I see them later on and everything is alright.”
According to Dean, Cruz is one of the fighters he loves to hear personal critiques from, citing “The Dominator’s” intelligence in the cage, as well as his experience as an analyst.
“It’s really rough with Dominick because he is so good at what he does,” Dean explained. “He is so good as a fighter, a technical fighter, he’s changed the direction of the sport in a lot of ways. And as an analyst he is very technical.
“And he is one of the guys that I have actually talked to about some critiques he’s had of my job and others,” he continued. “Because when he does have a critique, he has a reason for it. He is someone I always want to hear from in the situation for those reasons.”
As far as the stoppage goes, Dean obviously sees both sides, but says he can’t see anything that Peterson could've done differently in the split second he made the decision to put an end to the title fight.
Afterward, Cejudo retired from the sports, relinquishing his 135-pound title in the process. UFC President Dana White then revealed the promotion would book an immediate title fight involving Petr Yan and another worthy contender to crown a new champion as soon as possible.
Unfortunately for Cruz, it probably won’t be him.