Fight Island in Abu Dhabi has gained somewhat of a reputation as being way more hardcore than your average location for mixed martial arts. While New York will stop a fight the moment a fighter starts looking wobbly or a cut appears anywhere near an eye, Fight Island has featured several bouts where the refs just let things go an extra five, ten, hell why not twenty blows longer than they should.
The best example of this is the Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo finish, which featured Yan wailing on Aldo for over a minute. This past Saturday’s fights at UFC Fight Island 3 weren’t as horrific but pretty bad in their own way, and they both featured well known referee Herb Dean taking a few extra seconds to step in and save a downed fighter. In the prelims, Tanner Boser hit Raphael Pessoa with a knuckle in the eye which dropped Pessoa. Pessoa then took several pretty unnecessary punches to the face before Dean stepped in.
The really bad one though was the preliminary card main event between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert. Trinaldo smoked Herbert with a massive overhand left that felled him like a tree. Herbert went still and hit the canvas hard, but because his arm was still up in the air Herb must have thought he was still somewhat conscious. If he was, he wasn’t after Trinaldo stood over him for a few seconds waiting for the fight to be stopped before obliging Dean with four pistons right to Herbert’s face.
Commentator Dan Hardy was not happy with that, screaming “Stop the fight! That’s two times now!”
BT Sport caught another angle of the commentary booth clearly unhappy with Dean’s efforts, or lack thereof.
Not caught on video camera (but audible over the feed) was Hardy going over to castigate Dean following his second slow stoppage of the evening.
“I’m doing my job, now you do yours!” an agitated Hardy told Dean. “Gotta look out for these fighters! My goodness!”
Following the event, Paul Felder threw in his two cents during the post-fight show.
“His job is to protect the fighter and if the fighter is out,” Felder said. I don’t care if there’s one second left on the clock, if he’s knocked out and he’s stiff? Look at that fight again and look at his hands and where he’s at. Just because he’s doing this, stiff, does not mean he’s defending punches. If Trinaldo can stand over you being the scary man that he is for a good three seconds without having a punch and you don’t move? You’re out.”
“He’s really defending himself,” Felder said sarcastically as the replay aired. “He’s really putting on the fight of his life here. He ate shots that he didn’t have to eat.”
Some agreed with Hardy and Felder voicing their disapproval...
Dan Hardy has always had my respect as one of the best MMA minds/analysts out there but he’s especially deserving of praise tonight. Analysts must be critical when they believe the situation calls for it. Can’t hold back. He didn’t. He’s not trying to make friends.— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) July 26, 2020
And some did not.
That was a Great non-stoppage! He was still defending himself, was rocked for sure, he could’ve tapped. Great Non-stoppage— Sam Alvey (@smilensam) July 25, 2020
You’d probably be happier if the fighters played Rock Paper Scissors before the fight to figure out who wins. Gotta make sure no one gets hurt— Sam Alvey (@smilensam) July 26, 2020
What do you think, Maniacs? Dean giving the fighters a chance to get out of bad positions, or just crappy reffing?