Herb Dean follows up questionable UFC 169 stoppage with an even worse call at UFC 170

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Commentary/Opinion, UFC Events

rouseydeanWe haven’t discussed the 800 pound gorilla in the room—and no, that’s not a Roy Nelson joke. Now that we’re a few days removed from UFC 170 and the so-called “UFC’s biggest star” getting another notch on her title belt, shouldn’t we talk about how that finish came about? Namely, how Herb Dean really blew it this time?

For the second straight PPV, Dean was the center of controversy in a main event with a belt on the line. It was UFC 169 that we had to ask if giving a ‘thumbs up’ was considered intelligent defense. For Dean, who likely didn’t see the gesture, it was not enough and the fight was called in favor of Renan Barao.

UFC 170 was even more egregious. In the main event—this time a women’s bantamweight championship fight—Ronda Rousey was awarded a TKO that I believe was one of the worst stoppages in recent memory. Here’s the sequence of events that directly led to the finish.

  • Knee to the liver by Rousey; McMann crumbles to the ground.
  • Dean immediately starts to move in.
  • Rousey delivered 2 hammerfists that were definitely not devastating
  • Dean called the fight as McMann was beginning to get back to her feet.

The liver shot is a crippling blow. It takes a second or two to be able to regain mobility. McMann was getting back to her feet at the same moment Dean stepped in. He jumped to soon.

Now let’s look at an earlier fight for comparison. Dean was also the ref for the TJ Waldburger vs. Mike Pyle fight which ended when Pyle brutally battered Waldburger until Dean stepped in—this time much, much later by comparison. Here’s the series beginning with Pyle attempted guillotine after the fight went to the ground.

  • Pyle mounts TJ with guillotine attempt.
  • Glancing elbow to the head, followed by a huge elbow.
  • Rogan yells, “He’s OUT!”
  • Solid left to the face
  • Solid elbow to the head; TJ rolls to his back.
  • Three straight rights to the head.
  • A right to the face
  • Two lefts to the face; Waldburger looks totally dazed
  • Huge elbow to the temple; Waldburger is visibly done
  • Left to the jaw.
  • Two right hammerfists
  • Rogan yells, “Herb Dean needs to stop this fight!”
  • Rogan yells, “This fight is over!”
  • At least 6-8 more rights and lefts to the sides of Waldburger’s head.
  • 2 more strong elbows
  • Dean finally stepped in to stop the fight.

My side-by-side comparison is probably not completely fair, because every fight is different. However, in my eyes one of these fights went far too long and one of them was stifled entirely too soon. Why? Is there a different level of tolerance for women vs. men? I certainly hope that‘s not the case. That’s the type of thing that can bring a certain level of illegitimacy to the women’s division.

The other aspect is that it’s no secret that Dana White thinks Rousey is the biggest star in the sport. I’m not convinced he’s right about that. But to say White would want his supposed “biggest star” to win is an understatement. A HUGE understatement. So what does he do? He immediate runs to the media and says it was a good stoppage! What?!? The guy who bitches about every Steve Mazzagatti stoppage in history thinks THIS ONE was good? Dana’s “unbiased” (the quotation marks signify sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it) viewpoint seems to match his own personal interest more times than not.

I’ve watched the replays enough times to get a good feel for it. Although I don’t like making dramatic historic proclamations, this one really does go down as one of the worst stoppages in company history for me. But since Ronda was the beneficiary, I think it’s going to be swept under the rug by the UFC fairly quickly. I’m not expecting an immediate rematch.  And for Herb Dean—widely considered the best ref in the business—that’s three times in just two PPV events that we’re left scratching our heads over his decisions while overseeing an important bout.

  1. […] Herb Dean follows up questionable UFC 169 stoppage with an even worse call at UFC 170 […]

  2. […] to step in and call the Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann fight after (basically) a knee to the body. I criticized Dean for both calls—and I haven’t changed my […]

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