Almost a year and a half ago, former UFC title challenger Dan Hardy got a bit heated with longtime referee Herb Dean. The two got into an argument about Dean’s supposed late stoppage on the UFC Fight Island 3 matchup between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert.
Hardy particularly had a problem with Dean’s failure to immediately step in and save Herbert, who was already knocked out and continued to take damage on the ground.
Dean remains to be a constant fixture as the third man in the Octagon. Hardy, meanwhile, has since severed ties with the UFC, both as a color commentator and analyst. But to this day, he continues to have his apprehensions whenever Dean is assigned to officiate fights.
“My main focus is the fighters getting protection. He’s still present at regular events and still making mistakes consistently,” Hardy said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour. “He still waves that fight off at the end of the round, he still doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing, it concerns me.
“It really does, because at some point, our sport is gonna be negatively affected by someone not doing their job. And we’re all gonna be impacted by that, and we’re all gonna be saddened by it.”
Hardy expressed general concern about what appears to be a recent trend of questionable officiating incidents.
“None of these people are gonna be there in 15 or 20 years when these guys can’t remember their kids’ names. That’s the thing that we have to not forget.”
As someone who stepped in there himself, “The Outlaw” wants to see some changes.
“We love MMA. I love MMA. Nobody loves a knockout as much as me. Trust me, I watch them on repeat, over and over again. ‘Look at how he did this! Look at the feint!’ I love it. But I don’t want to see is these guys taking unnecessary damage, because the sport’s damaging enough,” Hardy said.
“We need referees that do good jobs, and there are a small handful of them out there. And we need to protect them, and we need to get them training the rest. Because there are a lot of guys that are slipping. And they’re not the ones taking the punishment.”