Dan Hardy discusses Herb Dean confrontation

At UFC on ESPN 14 on July 25th, UFC commentator and (hopefully not former) fighter Dan Hardy got pretty upset at referee Herb Dean’s stoppage of Tanner Boser vs. Raphel Pessoa fight, and really, really, really upset at Dean’s stoppage of Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jai Herbert. After the second bout, Hardy shouted out, “STOP THE FIGHT” which could not be missed in the empty arena. Then Hardy voiced his disapproval face to face with Dean immediately after the fight.

A highly unusual back and forth via multiple separate interviews then followed, with Dean asking Hardy to take off the Superman cape, and noting that yelling the referee should come only from the cageside doctors or officials. Hardy continued to argue that this stoppage was woefully late.

Eventually, UFC president Dana White declined to take any action against Hardy, but laid down the law.

“If you work for me in any capacity,  and you approach a referee or judge or official, I will fire you that night on the spot. That can never happen here ever again,” said White. “I’m speaking to [Hardy] right now. I’m speaking to everybody. Don’t ever do it ever again. And if you’re a fighter, and you put your hands on or threaten any official, you will never, ever fight here again. Period.”

During a recent appearance on MMA Junkie Radio, Hardy attempted to clarify lingering confusion.

“I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around this still,” said Hardy, as transcribed by Nolan King. “I’ve kind of put it out of my mind. It became so frustratingly irritating that people didn’t have the right information.”

“[Dean] came over to me and spoke to me at the desk. [White saying] ‘You can never approach an official.’ That was not aimed at me. I’m not taking that as being aimed at me in any way. That was, to me, related to the fight the following week at UAE Warriors where one of the fighters wouldn’t let go of the choke and then pushed Marc Goddard, who was the official on that night. It was a bit of a mix of a reply from Dana at the press conference. That, to me, was what he was replying to. I didn’t approach an official.”

“I’ve spoken to the UFC about it. They don’t want me shouting at the officials on the broadcast. That was my feedback from it. At the same time, I don’t want to be put in a position where an official isn’t doing their job. … I just want accountability. That’s all I want. We’re in a sport where people can get seriously hurt – permanently seriously hurt.”

“Herb has refereed me a couple of times. I’ve always respected him as a highly experienced official. There’s no denying he’s a good referee. There’s also no denying that he’s human, and people do make mistakes. We don’t grow unless we take accountability for those mistakes. That’s all it was about. I have nothing against Herb. If he wants a conversation with me about it, I will have one in private or in public. He can come on the podcast, and I’ll discuss it with him on record. There are lots of things we can all learn from it.”

“Ultimately, I’m just trying to make the sport better for everybody involved and make sure we keep in the mainstream, because we clawed and fought our way to get here. When I was fighting for a world title, it wasn’t about the fight. It was about why ‘human cockfighting’ was on TV. I got sick of having those conversations. I don’t want to go through all that ground again, because we’ve covered so much ground. But nonchalant attitudes toward refereeing is going to get us back there, and that’s what I’m trying to prevent.”

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