Dana White on Herb Dean: ‘He’s the Best Referee Ever in the History of the Sport’

June 12, 2011
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Herb Dean

A couple of incidents at UFC 131 made the case for UFC President Dana White to once again proclaim referee Herb Dean as the best in the business.

Referees and judges have probably the two most thankless jobs in the sport of MMA.

In most cases it’s the bad mistakes referees or judges make that are pointed out and scrutinized by the public, journalists and even promoters.

For that very reason, UFC President Dana White chose to praise referee Herb Dean after he made a couple of crucial calls during UFC 131 that showed once again why he believes Dean is the best there’s ever been.

“I don’t know this guy, we don’t hang out, I’ve never said ‘hi’ to him, never said two words to him…Herb Dean is the best referee in the business,” White told MMAWeekly.com following UFC 131.

“He’s the best referee ever in the history of the sport.”

Dean has been responsible for some of the best calls as a referee during his time in the sport. His stoppage during the Frank Mir vs. Tim Sylvia fight back at UFC 48 in 2004. With Mir clasped onto an armbar, Sylvia’s forearm snapped in two places and Dean recognized the injury right away and swooped in to stop the fight.

At the time Sylvia protested because he didn’t technically tap out, but after having his arm examined he realized that Dean may have saved his career by stopping the fight when he did.

Dean’s judgment on Saturday night in Vancouver was more about not stopping a fight. During the first round of the Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin main event, the Brazilian had his opponent on the mat and was unloading shots on him. Carwin was turtled up and offering little resistance, but was covering up effectively and still trying to move.

Even Dos Santos was yelling for a stoppage, but Dean felt that Carwin could continue. It turns out Dean was right because Carwin made it the remainder of the fight with Dos Santos.

“Sometimes these guys get nervous or scared or don’t want to be booed, you’re the referee, you’re in charge in there. You make the decisions. (Junior Dos Santos) says ‘stop the fight’, and (Herb Dean) says ‘I’m not going to stop the fight, I think this guy can continue’ and sure enough he could,” White said.

White also mentioned a preliminary fight between Nick Ring and James Head that was paused due to a cut to allow the doctors to check the fighter. When the fight was allowed to continue, Dean took charge and set the fighters back in the exact position they had been before the stoppage was made.

“The other thing that he did earlier was in the Nick Ring fight. When he stopped the fight and then stood them up, he put them back down on the ground, both fighters were arguing with him over what the position was when they started and he said ‘no, what you had was this technique’ and said exactly what they had. Half the referees, maybe all the referees, wouldn’t know what the (expletive) he meant,” White stated.

While other top referees have worked and been successful in the sport, in White’s opinion there’s only one person he’d want to be in the middle of any major UFC fight.

“If I’m a fighter and I’m in there and my record is on the line, my money’s on the line, everything, I want to see Herb Dean standing in that Octagon in between me and the next fighter,” White said in closing.

Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
@DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon a question or comment.

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  • Herd does do an excellent job. Josh Rosenthal is another guy who does a good job reffing fights.

    • Probably the worst stoppage I’ve ever seen is Hieron over Lapsley at Bellator 35. That was Josh Rosenthal.

  • ShockednAwed

    Mario’s the worst, in my opinion, although I don’t think much of Levine either. They both look nervous on camera, and their glances out towards the crowds give away any pretence they may give off that they don’t notice it.

    I do also think Rosenthal sucks, but he’s at least young, so he’ll probably get better with the experience.

  • wonggfan

    Mario is NOT the worst. MCarthy is NOT the worst. Rosenthal is NOT the worst.

    There is only one bad ref and that is Steve Mazagatti. But even that guy calls fights good most of the times.

    • Cptmats

      I think Big John is still the best ! The only two that really suck are Mazagatti and that chick with the long Braid !

  • Cptmats

    Pride ref were the best ! lol loved when someone was in a bad spot and the ref would get right down in their face and scream ” give up ?” “give up ?”

    • I always hated how the refs let the Japanese fighters take a lot of unnecessary damage back in the Pride days. A lot of those fights should have been stopped sooner but they let the poor guys take a beating.

      • Cptmats

        Yeh but they were funny as hell !

  • Cswan101

    Thats kind of an expectation when you get into fighting professionally..theres no such thing as unnessasary

    • Cptmats

      What a stupid thing to say !