Herb Dean might be one of the best referees in MMA (mixed martial arts) in recent years, but even he receives his share of criticism. The 45-year-old octagon veteran's recent performances in Las Vegas was first questioned by UFC president Dana White, and now by newly-crowned UFC Middleweight champion of the world Luke Rockhold.
Dean was the man in the middle as Rockhold beat Chris Weidman in the co-main event of UFC 194, in the fourth round of the fight with some vicious ground-and-pound, to become the new champion. Awarding the TKO (technical knockout) win to Rockhold wasn't the debate, but not stopping the fight in the closing stages of the third round was.
Rockhold was in the mount position for more than 20 seconds in the third round, and was brutally landing his hammer fists and elbows on Weidman, but Herb Dean let the fight to go on. It was only when the bell signalled the end of the round that the two were seperated.
Many MMA fans questioned Dean's call not to stop the fight then and there. Rockhold was also left puzzled after the end of the third round, he has revealed. "In the moment, I was thinking to myself, 'What is going on right now? How is he not stopping the fight?'," the 31-year-old American fighter said during the Three Amigos Podcast.
"I don't know what else I needed to do, but you know, that's the fight game, and if it were me, I'd want to go out on my shield and be completely finished. I was hoping he [Dean] would stop it, but unfortunately, that didn't happen, and I had to go suck it up another round," the UFC Middleweight champion added.
Dana White, just a day earlier, had criticised Dean's referreeing during The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale match between Ryan Hall and Artem Lobov. Hall won the match by unanimous decision in the end, but what irked Dana was Dean never really made the fighters stand up when he saw Hall riding on Lobov's back for more than two minutes in the third round.
"No damage was being done. Nobody was really advancing their position. And this is for everything â€” this is for The Ultimate Fighter," Dana White said of the fight. "Herb I think he is one of the best. I don't think he did his best tonight.
"Which is one of the reasons I think Herb should have allowed them to fight for the last three minutes. There was no fighting in the last three minutes of that fight. That's irritating. You know, and I think that leaves a bad taste in everybody's mouth."
UFC commentator Joe Rogan and pro-wrestling veteran Paul Heyman, meanwhile, have come out in support of Herb Dean.