The back and forth between commentator Dan Hardy and referee Herb Dean over questionable stoppage continues.
On Saturday night at UFC Fight Island 3, Hardy left his booth and got all up in Herb Dean’s grill over the end of two fights: the first between Tanner Boser and Raphael Pessoa, which saw Boser catch Pessoa with a knuckle in the eye, crumpling Pessoa. And the main prelim between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert, which saw Trinaldo knock Herbert out cold on the feet but only ended after Trinaldo unleashed four more unneeded punches to Herbert’s face on the ground.
It was during the Trinaldo finish that Dan Hardy screamed “Stop the fight!” and left the booth to confront Dean, telling him to do his job and protect the fighters. Hardy has since put out a statement defending his actions, calling Dean’s refereeing ‘clear negligence.’ Now Herb Dean is here with his own thoughts on the situation, which don’t go into Hardy’s decision to have a post-fight talk but concentrate on the moment at the end of the bout where he yelled for things to be stopped.
“I want to talk to you guys about Abu Dhabi,” Dean says in a video recorded in the airport. “Great fights, was almost there for a month. A lot of really great fights, a lot of great situations to talk about. Last night I got to referee some fights. One fight in general there was a great situation that I definitely want to go over and talk to you guys about. There’s a fight that some people say could have been stopped earlier and think it was stopped late. By no means was that a late stoppage. But I’ll go into that later, maybe do another video and break that down and give you guys more information on it. I want to give you guys more information on how we make our decisions and our process.”
“What I really want to get into right now is during the match someone yelled out ‘Stop the fight!’ 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, and so that’s why they would give me some advice to stop the fight. Ultimately to stop the fight is my decision. So for anyone to ... I don’t know who it was who did it because I was looking at the fight and and I had heard it, so I assumed it was either of the two people authorized to do it, the doctor or the corner.”
“After the match I followed up, I asked the physician he goes ‘No, that fight was fine. You were doing perfectly fine with everything you did in that match. I didn’t get a chance to ask his corner, but I asked the inspectors, who are in charge of his corner. And they said ‘No. The corner did not yell out to stop the match.’ That means it was someone else, someone there doing 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, you’re doing 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,” Dean continued. “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 that you would never see me in that position again. But I would sleep well knowing that I’d done that.”
“The bottom line now if I have to look at that match, not looking at it to know if I should’ve stopped it early, because it’s easy. Anyone who believes it’s not is just following because someone with a microphone says it should’ve been stopped. But if you know anything about fighting, the fighter got hurt, fighters get rocked all the time, but we’re looking at his actions. He’s tracking his opponent, he knows where his opponent is. He’s putting both arms in between him and his opponent. He’s lifting his legs and head off the mat. He’s doing everything I could ask for to stay in that fight. So, it wasn’t a bad stoppage.”
Hmm. Agree to disagree.
“But that person who is yelling out, that’s almost the same thing as if you would grab a horn and ring the horn as if you’re calling the time. It could easily be mistaken for the official horn. If you open your mouth and yell the words ‘Stop the fight,’ it could easily be mistaken for the people who are officially qualified to yell ‘Stop the fight.’ It should never be done. Food for thought.”
We’ll let you guys decide what you think of Herb Dean’s response, but for what it’s worth Dan Hardy isn’t the first person by far to scream ‘Stop the fight’ during a fight. Joe Rogan has done it tons of times. Daniel Cormier has done it. Hell, Dana White does it too. It’s a depressingly common occurrence because MMA reffing is a tough job, and sometimes an official doesn’t notice when someone is unconscious or out of it from a certain angle. Hardy just happens to be in the hot seat here because he did it in a closed arena with no one else around.
And yeah, Dean isn’t wrong in that regard: the commentators shouldn’t be shouting into the cage at the referee. But then again, the referee shouldn’t be forcing Francisco Trinaldo to unload on a clearly unconscious opponent when they’re already clearly out. Food for thought.