Derek Brunson pulled off an upset TKO win on Saturday, August 1, when he stopped the much-hyped Edmen Shahbazyan in the third round. Moments before Brunson celebrated handing Shahbazyan his first career loss, referee Herb Dean called a time out immediately after the one-minute between round break ended. At that point, the cageside physician spoke to Shahbazyan for about 18 seconds before he allowed the fight to continue into the third round. Twenty-six seconds after Dean restarted the action, he waved off the fight.
In the contest’s aftermath, there were questions about Dean’s pausing the bout when he did. UFC president Dana White came across as one of the people who was curious about the way things played out between the second and third stanzas.
“You’ve got Brunson, who ends that round strong, many could argue that fight could have been stopped there at the end of the round. I’m sure the ref thought that the guy would have time to go back,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “What you don’t do is talk to the guy for f—king 10 minutes while he’s hurt. You know what I mean? Either stop the fight or let him continue, but go.”
“You’re letting the kid recover while you’ve got Brunson who did that work while he’s waiting for the bell to ring so that he can go in and finish the fight. Pull the trigger one way or the other. Stop the fight or don’t.”
Bloody Elbow reached out to Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett for clarification on how Dean, who has been under fire as of late, handled the pause in the action before the start of the final stanza.
Our regulations in NAC 467 state the Referee is the sole arbiter of the contest. Only the Referee can stop the fight in the state of Nevada. Referee Herb Dean in my opinion is one of the best referees in the business. At the end of round two Referee Dean did not stop the fight and allowed the fighter to walk back to his corner. During the one minute rest period you can observe the Ringside Physician and Referee Dean speaking. During the rest period the Ringside Physician and Referee Dean did not interfere with Shahbazyan’s corner attending to their fighter. This is standard procedure as to not interrupt Shahbazyan’s rest period and to allow his corner to attend to him. Upon the one minute rest period ending, Referee Dean called for a time out and requested the Ringside Physician. The Ringside Physician spoke with Shahbazyan to assess his medical condition and then spoke with Referee Dean. From the time out requested by Referee Dean, and the Ringside Physician’s medical assessment of Shahbazyan, the process took approximately 28 seconds. This process is in keeping with the health and safety of the fighter and did not affect the flow the fight. Shortly after the third round, Referee Dean correctly stopped the contest.
In the eyes of the NSAC, Dean handled the break in the action by the book.
As pointed out by Bennett, the total time between when Dean called time out and the doctor leaving the cage was under 30 seconds, which is a far cry from White’s hyperbolic claims of “10 minutes.”