Until he left the Octagon in December of 2007 for a brief career as a broadcaster, "Big" John McCarthy was unquestionably MMA's alpha referee. "Big" John McCarthy wasn't the first man to ever ref a UFC bout, but by the end of his tenure he was a universally admired authority on the rules of the sport and how to enforce them.
But once McCarthy left the Octagon amidst a flurry of controversy around his role in a proposed set of changes to the unified rules and some ill-advised criticisms of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC, there hasn't been a leading referee.
Now it looks like Herb Dean is making moves to claim the mantle. Kevin Iole talks to Dana White's favorite ref about his efforts to train better MMA umpires:
A former fighter with a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a 2-3 pro-MMA record, Dean has begun a school to train referees and judges, the MMA Referee School, in Pasadena, Calif.
The school is certified by the Association of Boxing Commissions and recently graduated its first class. The second session will be held Jan. 8 in Pasadena, Calif.
"The sport is growing and there are so many fight cards being held all over the place and there is always a need for additional good officials," said Dean, who was trained to officiate by Larry Landless and began refereeing in 1999 in King of the Cage. "There's no such thing as too many good officials and even the officials who are currently working need to consistently work to make sure they're up to date with the techniques that are being used."
Thanks Herb, every little bit of effort to improve the officiating of MMA helps.