Reffing is the hardest, most thankless job in the sport. The ability to juggle a man's livelihood and his health, deciding when a fighter goes out if he could come to when he hits the ground, requires a near superhuman level of skill.
Referee Herb Dean is universally regarded as one of the best referees in mixed martial arts. At UFC 169 and UFC 170 Dean made controversial calls; on Monday he appeared on Ariel Helwani's The MMA Hour, and defended them, while acknowledging that criticism was inherent in the position
"I think that it's part of my job, that I am going to be criticized," said Dean as transcribed by MMAMania. "I think that I was very lucky to be the darling of mixed martial arts officials ... it felt kind of strange. But, I know that part of my job is to make decisions that a lot of times, people aren't going to be happy with."
At UFC 169 Dean stopped UFC men's Bantamweight champion Renan Barao from hitting Urijah Faber any further, but Faber had given a thumbs up, just out of view.
The moment the fight was stopped Faber explained he had had his thumb up, and in the post fight interview, while offering Dean the highest praise for his skills as a referee, said it was the wrong call.
Given Dean's vantage point, which was the correct one given the attack, the thumbs up would have been difficult to see. While Faber does seem to have been OK, the math of the matter is that he took a dozen punches to the head without moving at all, which does not represent an intelligent defense.
"As far as how I came to that decision, he had already taken three shots, he had been hurt badly," explained Dean. "When Barao was doing his thing where he was trying to look up at me, he actually was taking his posture off Urijah a little bit. So I moved in to check in on Urijah, you know, like OK, he's kind of taking his posture off of him, and he's not responding to that. And what I did, a tool that's been very helpful to me over the years, I tell the fighters to fight back, show me something, and based on that response, is how I made my decision.... He attempted to show me that he was fine by raising a thumb. My position was a good position, but I was not in a correct position to see his thumb. I did not see that thumb. I can't expect him to know exactly where I am at all times."
At UFC 170 UFC Dean stopped UFC women's Bantamweight champion? Ronda Rousey from hitting Sara McMann any further, after Rousey landed a knee to the liver and McMann crumpled.
When asked if it was the right call, Dean was unequivocal.
"Absolutely," he replied. "She took the shot, and as far as with her posture, when she falls, she turns away from her opponent, hands out and holds her injury -- not blocking, but holds. There's a difference. Ronda is on the other side of her, shots are going to be coming from the sides. I could see if she had protected her body, but she held, which means that she's in a lot of pain. Usually when I see fighters hold something, often, something's broken. She's in no position to be defending herself."
Both decisions were controversial on the UG. Do you feel any different after hearing what the third man in the cage had to say?
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