Herb Dean may be one of the most respected referees in MMA today, but he’s also susceptible to controversies once in a while. The veteran official got himself into one on Saturday during the preliminary fight between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert.
Herbert was knocked down by Trinaldo with a hammer of an overhand left at the 3:36 mark of round three, and looked visibly out of it as soon as he landed on the canvas. But instead of calling a stop to the fight, Dean allowed the action to briefly continue, causing Herbert to take four clean shots before it was halted.
The incident left commentators Dan Hardy and Paul Felder irate, with Hardy confronting Dean afterward.
“Here’s the thing: Being a ref in MMA is one of the hardest roles that you can have, and Herb Dean is one of our best, categorically,” Shaw said during the post-fight scrum (transcript by MMA Junkie).
“(The) bottom line is, health and safety of the athletes is of paramount importance. On the other side, you’ve got a guy like Hardy who, very successful MMA career, an excellent analyst right now, but he’s passionate, and he’s fiery.
“The important thing for us to do is to try and get a handle and try to get an understanding of what actually happened. Obviously, this is not something that you address with either one of the parties during the show.
“These guys have a job to do, and so we certainly don’t want to disrupt their efforts to do an excellent job, as we expect they always will,” he continued. “So we’ll go back, we’ll check it out, try to get a better understanding of what happened and really take it from there.”
Shaw adds that event officials like VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner are the only ones allowed to speak to referees during live events.
“I guess the bottom line is there’s one group of people that are able to talk to officials during the fight night, and that’s (Marc) Ratner’s regulatory group, and no one else,” he explained. “So we’ll see what happens next week when we get back to the office.”
Another time Dean was involved in a similar controversy was at UFC 235 in March 2019 during a fight between Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren, which many felt was stopped early.