In the main event of Sunday's UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Henderson 2, the two light heavyweight veterans met in a rematch of their UFC 139 classic. Mauricio Rua almost picked up a quick win after hurting Dan Henderson badly in the first round, but Hendo was able to recover and continue. Shogun followed that up by taking the second round and dropping Henderson again. The tides turned in the third round, however, as Henderson caught Shogun with a big right hook coming out of the clinch leading to the eventual finish.
it was an incredible come from behind victory for Henderson, who almost everyone was counting out by the time he landed the fight changing blow. Yet, the stoppage didn't come without controversy. After Rua fell to the mat, he turtled and clung to Henderson as the latter pursued the finish. As referee Herb Dean moved into position, Henderson landed a series of blows to the back of the head before the match was stopped (as you can see here). Having apparently not seen the illegal strikes, Dean called the fight without addressing them.
As the fight was coming to a close, Dean moved himself out of position to where his view of the action was completely blocked by Henderson's back. By the time he reacted and rotated around the two, all he saw was a hurt Shogun clingin to Henderson's leg. His inability to see the fight ending blows allowed Henderson to strike illegally, hindering Rua's ability to intelligently defend himself.
The quick and easy response to this criticism is obviously, "it was going to end the same, anyway." The problem with this logic is we have absolutely no idea how Shogun would have reacted in the same position if he wasn't eating shots to the back of the head. From the position he was in, he could have rolled into guard searching for a chance to recover if Henderson had been forced to pick his shots as per the rulebook. Maybe the fight would have ended the same, maybe differently, but Dean's positioning made sure we'll never know.
This isn't the first time in 2014 Dean has been criticized for his performance inside the Octagon. Back at UFC 170 he had two controversial stoppages. First, he allowed T.J. Waldburger absorb a tremendous amount of unnecessary damage at the hands of Mike Pyle on the undercard. He followed that up with what many considered a quick stoppage in the main event after Sarah McMann was hurt by a blow to the body from Ronda Rousey. As the man who's supposed to be the top of officiating in the sport, Dean needs to set the bar higher than he has this year.