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Herb Dean claims ‘tired’ Brian Ortega was ‘close to being stopped’ — but didn’t need help getting to stool

UFC 266: Volkanovski v Ortega Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Did referee Herb Dean get “owned” like John McCarthy did at UFC 178?

UFC featherweight contender Brian Ortega appeared to need help getting to his stool just seconds after getting walloped with brutal ground-and-pound from 145-pound champion Alexander Volkanovski during their UFC 266 title fight last month in Las Vegas.

Or maybe he was just tired.

“I don’t think his cornermen helped him,” Dean told Helen Yee (transcribed by Bloody Elbow). “He was laying there, he wasn’t getting up. I think it was more of those ‘Hey, it’s time to get up. Let’s get moving.’ Because once they grabbed him, it’s not, like, they had to lift him up. Once they put their hands on him, he was getting up to get on the stool. But I think he was really having that — I can’t speak for him, but I know how it feels like to struggle with yourself. And he definitely was spending some time talking to himself there, figuring out, digging deep. Finding the strength to go on.”

Ortega may have emptied his tank in the third frame after squeezing with all his might on a pair of submission attempts. A calm and collected Volkanovski, however, weathered the storm and managed to roar back with a series of brutal strikes from top position.

“What was interesting is he got that minute rest period,” Dean continued. “Because basically, at the end of the round, it was exhaustion, I think. He had given it his all. Then the physician comes in, medically clears him, says he’s clear. Some of (Ortega’s) answers weren’t exactly clear, but then when he looked at me and gave clear answers, like, ‘Yes, I see, yes I wanna continue,’ and you could see that he was ready to compete again, we gave him another chance. Of course, we’re gonna kinda watch closely, but he got out there and did what he was supposed to do.”

Ortega lost a unanimous decision to Volkanovski and is now 0-2 in featherweight title fights.

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