The incident came in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 32 between Ben Rothwell and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. De Lima rocked Rothwell early, and while pummelling him relentlessly against the cage, Dean stepped in to call off proceedings. He then, however, stepped back and allowed the fight to continue, before stepping back in to call the fight off once more, just 32 seconds into round one.
While one of the UFC’s most experienced referees, Dean has recently courted much criticism for a series of botched stoppages. Former UFC welterweight Dan Hardy has been his most fierce critic, with the duo having been involved in a much-publicized on-air squabble in July last year at UFC Fight Island 3. In that incident, Hardy protested Dean’s reluctance to stop the fight between Jai Herbert and Francisco Trinaldo, with the former sustaining unnecessary damage as a result.
Dana White Lashes Herb Dean For Controversial Stoppage
At the UFC Vegas 42 post-fight press conference, Dana White didn’t mince words when asked to weigh in on Dean’s botched stoppage. While the UFC President conceded that the fight should have been stopped anyway, he warned the veteran referee to improve his decision-making, alluding to Dean’s recent track record of less than optimal refereeing.
“Herb needs to stop touching guys unless the fight’s over,” said White. “He goes in and grabs [Ben Rothwell] by the waist, and then decides, ‘Oops.’ The good thing about this one was that fight should’ve been stopped when he stopped it. And you didn’t see Ben jumping up and arguing about it. That fight should’ve been stopped. But he’s gotta pull the trigger and stop touching guys. Don’t touch them unless you’re gonna stop the fight. And when they played it back in slow motion, he’s kinda like dancing, like he doesn’t know what to do, whether he’s gonna jump in or not jump in.”
White however tempered his critique of Dean, who made his debut as a UFC referee in 2004, by mentioning that the man once regarded as the gold standard of MMA refereeing is still, at least on a personal level, in his good books.
“Yeah, I like him personally. He’s a nice guy. But he’s gotta stop touching people until he’s ready to stop the fight,” said White.
What do you think? Is it time for Herb Dean to step down as a UFC referee, or is he still one of the best?