First Jon Anik, now Herb Dean.
Anik and Dean have both stepped in to defend referee Keith Peterson after former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz accused Peterson of ‘smelling like alcohol and cigarettes’ at UFC 249.
Anik labelled Cruz’ comments a character assassination and Dean has vouched for Peterson, claiming the veteran referee wouldn’t have been allowed in the Octagon if his fellow colleagues suspected he was drinking on the job.
“I didn’t smell alcohol on Keith Peterson,” Dean told internet personality “The Schmo” on Tuesday (h/t Farah Hannoun MMA Junkie). “Keith Peterson was around us all day, and I’ll tell you this: If any of us suspect that someone’s been drinking the day of the fight, there’s no way any official is gonna let that pass. We’re gonna call someone out. This is a very serious job we do.”
Cruz, who suffered a second-round TKO loss to Henry Cejudo in the UFC 249 co-main event, also criticized Peterson for issuing what he feels was an early stoppage.
Dean believes Peterson did the best he could given the situation.
“I would just say it’s a very tough situation,” Dean said. “Because Dominick got hurt and when someone gets hurt, as a referee, your job is to manage the threat that’s coming after them while they’re trying to recover and get their facilities about them and be able to do the right things.
“And it was quite a while, and there were a lot of shots coming while he was trying to get it together. Keith Peterson made a decision based on what he saw, and I think it fits within the standards of a stoppage. The situation changed in that split second, and that’s a bad situation for anyone.
“So is that the situation we want? Of course not. But looking at it, can I see anything he did wrong that I would have done different? I don’t think so.”
Cruz has yet to respond to either Anik or Dean.