Some of the most discussed drama surrounding last weekend’s UFC Fight Island III took place not between the fighters in the Octagon, but between commentator Dan Hardy and referee Herb Dean.
Here’s the short version: during the fight between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert, Trinaldo landed a heavy punch that sent a dazed Herbert to the ground on his back. Trinaldo hesitated before going in on Herbert, and Dean waited a few more moments for Trinaldo to keep going before stopping the bout when it was clear that Herbert couldn’t continue.
The controversial call had commentators Hardy and Paul Felder riled up, with Hardy being particularly vocal and yelling at Dean to stop the fight and criticizing what he perceived as a late call from the referee.
The moment can be watched below:
Now, both Hardy and Dean have issued statements about the incident explaining their views about what happened.
Hardy shared his thoughts in an Instagram post, though he didn’t specifically name Dean when addressing the situation:
“I love Mixed Martial Arts. Sometimes it doesn’t love me back though, and that’s alright. Regardless, I’ll always do everything in my power to protect it, and those dedicating themselves to it.
Sometimes you may disagree with me, and that’s alright as well. I’m always going to speak my mind, and it will always be backed by what I feel in my heart.
If you understand what it takes to get in there, then you understand my passion and anger when I see a fighter left unprotected. It isn’t the first time it’s happened, and twice in a night is clear negligence, in my opinion.
The referees job is more important than any other person in that building. It is on their shoulders to protect fighters from getting seriously hurt when they are unable to protect themselves.
You may just see UFC fighters in there, but I see friends, teammates, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, competing in the sport that they love.
When I make a mistake, I look stupid on live TV. When a referee makes a mistake, people are left vulnerable and can be seriously damaged. That can be life-changing, and we all have someone to go home to, that loves us and wants us back in one piece.
Thank you for all of the kind words and messages I’ve received. I am truly grateful. I’ll see you all around… ♥️“
Dean also chose not to name Hardy specifically in his response (which he delivered in video format on his own Instagram page), but addressed the comment telling him to “stop the fight.”
“There’s a fight that some people said could have been stopped earlier, think it was stopped late. By no means was that a late stoppage… Anyone who believes or not is maybe just following because someone with a microphone says it’s a [bad] stoppage. But if you know anything about fighting, a 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 put both arms in between him and his opponent. He’s lifted his leg up, head off the mat. He’s doing everything I can ask for him to do to stay in that fight. There wasn’t a bad stoppage.”
Dean continued by laying out his job and those of the other people involved who have the power to contribute to a fight stoppage. “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 taken 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 him, they know about him, they know more things about him than I do. They may know something I don’t know, so that’s why they would give me some advice to stop the fight. Ultimately, to stop the fight is my decision.”
Dean added that upon hearing the shout, he assumed it was either the physician or the fighter’s corner. He says he later confirmed with the physician and the corner’s inspectors that neither of them were the ones to yell out to call for the stoppage.
“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 that you could bring in information that could do the fighter disservice. I’m looking at the match, I believe I’m getting information from the people qualified to do it… Under no circumstances, even I as a referee, get up and yell and tell another referee to stop the match. If I were to do that, I would know it would be a situation where I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.
“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.”
You can watch Dean’s full statement below:
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