Herb Dean, arguably the most respected referee in MMA today, recently spoke about the controversial call referee Mario Yamasaki made to stop the Dan Henderson vs. Vitor Belfort fight at UFC Fight Night 77 in Brazil. According to Dean, he might not have made the same call that Yamasaki did.
“It’s hard to say whether I would have handled it differently,” said Dean during his recent appearance on Bruce Buffer’s podcast. “I think the biggest difference was how close Mario was [to stopping it] at that point. Dan had already gone down. He had taken some shots and Mario was almost at the point where he was touching him. I think if Mario was one step back, which he could have easily been, or a step in a different direction, he could have gotten that second to realize Dan was there and was still in the game.”
Herb Dean was in Brazil for the event, as he worked several fights as a referee himself, including another debatable stoppage — a standing technical knockout for Glover Teixeira over Patrick Cummins in the co-main event of the evening.
“I can’t say it would have been different or that it wouldn’t have been different,” Dean added regarding the Henderson-Belfort main event. “I think on a different day Mario might have made a different decision. I think Mario … I think he was making a different decision as he was touching him. He realized Dan was kicking him off. He did see [Henderson] go. He saw his head go limp.
“He saw another punch coming. That’s the big thing. You see something that they need to protect themselves from. That punch missed and gave Dan a second more to get back into the game. I think that was what was crucial.”
Dean continued, explaining why no referee ever wants questions about one of their calls coming out of a fight.
“This is a rough sport, OK? One thing we know is that on any given night of competition someone’s going to receive an injury like most people don’t receive in their life. At the end of a punch someone’s probably going to get knocked unconscious. Someone’s going to have some joints disfigured. It’s a rough sport.
“At the other hand of it we’re balancing all their hopes and dreams that they’ve sacrificed for against that. That’s how we make our decisions. When we believe it’s no longer competitive, when the guy has nothing left to give it’s time for us to step in and do our job. It’s hard to figure those things out because you can’t feel what someone’s feeling.”
H/T For Transcribing: MMAFighting.com