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Dana White: Herb Dean ‘needs to stop touching guys unless the fight’s over’

Referee Herb Dean is under some extra scrutiny after blowing a stoppage during last night’s UFC Vegas 42 event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

UFC Fight Night: Rothwell v Rogerio de Lima Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

We’re 42 events into the UFC’s COVID-forced “Fight Night”-themed tenure at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, and you can tell people are starting to lose their patience with the week-in, week-out whoopsies perpetrated by Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). In the past we’ve bagged on the judging, which has ranged from moderately competent to outright ridiculous. And now we need to take a moment to discuss referee Herb Dean, whose poor stoppage during the Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima fight at UFC Vegas 42 sure was something (watch highlights).

Basically, Dean stepped in to stop de Lima from destroying Rothwell against the cage, only to seemingly change his mind about the stoppage once Rothwell went down. Unfortunately, he’d already put his hands on de Lima, who was left sitting on top of Rothwell confused as to whether he should continue battering his opponent.

Not a good look.

After the fight, UFC President, Dana White, responded to a question about the stoppage by noting this is has become something of a trend when it comes to Herb Dean’s refereeing.

“Herb needs to stop touching guys unless the fight’s over,” White said. “He goes in and grabs him by the waist, and decides, ‘Oops, maybe I....’ The good thing about this was, the fight should have been stopped when he stopped it. You didn’t see Ben jumping up and arguing about it.

“But, he’s got to pull the trigger and stop touching guys,” he continued. “Don’t touch ‘em unless you’re going to stop the fight. And when they played it back in slow motion he’s kind of dancing like he doesn’t know what to do, whether he’s going to jump in or not jump in. I like him personally, he’s a nice guy. But, he’s got to stop touching people until he’s ready to stop the fight.”

While it’s the regional commissions and not UFC that assigns the refs, UFC has had influence in the past when it comes to pushing refs out of their shows. After receiving similar criticism from White over their performances, referees Steve Mazzagatti and Mario Yamasaki saw both their UFC assignments dwindle to zero. And while we don’t think Dean is on the outs, we do think he’s probably a few more headline-generating screw ups away.

Just take a look at some of the other questionable stoppages Dean has been a part of, collected by the fine folks of MMA Twitter (who swear more than early-2000s Dana White):

If you happened to watch those clips with audio on, you’ll notice Dan Hardy in the commentary booth freaking out, which eventually led to a confrontation between Dean and Hardy in Abu Dhabi that was picked up on air. Hardy would end up being reprimanded for “interfering” with an official, but sometimes you just got to do what’s right when fighter safety is being compromised.

What do you think, Maniacs? Just another understandable slip up, or is Herb Dean slipping these days?


For complete UFC Vegas 42 results and coverage click here.