Herb Dean" src="http://img.mixedmartialarts.com/method=get&s=herb-dean-12-20-11-8-39-13-946.jpg" />
In professional mixed martial arts a referee is only trained to react after damage has been done, not to prevent it when a submission is being applied. The thought being that these two professionals are being paid a lot of money sometimes and can make their own decision on whether or not to submit.
That said, referees can still have opinions and thoughts on what they hope happens, and more often than not would prefer to see each combatant make it through a fight without serious injury.
At UFC 140, Herb Dean was witness to one of the more gruesome injuries in the Octagon when Antonio Nogueira refused to submit to Frank Mir's kimura and his humerus was broken. The famed referee was recently a guest on Sherdog's Radio Network and told his side of the story:
“In my mind, I was hoping that he would tap,” Dean told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “It’s Time!” show with Bruce Buffer. “Like, ‘Please, please make this easy for me. That looks like it’s on.’ I definitely [had a] heightened awareness at that time. I was really focused on that arm. But that’s how Antonio became who he is -- he didn’t get there by giving up. That guy’s done things that everyone thought was impossible time and time again because he never gives up.”
Technically Nogueira did tap, but that was after his humerus had already snapped.
“I stopped it because I saw the arm break,” Dean said. “The tap came after. I don’t stop it when I believe it’s locked on or even if I believe the guy’s in jeopardy because I don’t know what that person can take. I don’t know what their limits are, but if I see an injury that is too dangerous for the fight to continue, that’s when I’m going to stop the fight. Or if I see the fighter tap.”
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