by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
MMAWeekly.com on Thursday spoke exclusively to referee Herb Dean, who oversaw the elimination fight between Roy Nelson and Kimbo Slice on the third episode of “The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights.”
Nelson used his grappling prowess to overcome Slice, earning a TKO stoppage in just over two minutes of the second round.
Subsequent to the fight’s air, Nelson openly criticized Dean’s judgment regarding the end of the first round, where Nelson’s positional dominance threatened to end the fight.
Dean addressed Nelson’s claims and the reasoning behind his call of the fight.
MMAWeekly: Firstly, Roy claimed that you didn’t stop the fight in the first round because of Kimbo’s status on the show. How do you respond to that?
Dean: Well, it’s not that complicated. I’m there to protect the fighter’s safety. Kimbo got up after that round pretty quick and spry, right? If I stop a fight it’s because I believe a fighter’s not fighting back, because he can’t. And there’s reasons why a fighter can’t fight back. One is a positional reason like Roy had on Kimbo. It was positional. Could (Kimbo) handle blows and continue to fight? He did. He made it to the end of the (first) round and continued to fight. If the blows were any less, I would have actually stood them up. The blows were strong enough to warrant being on the ground, but they weren’t strong enough for me to stop the fight.
MMAWeekly: Were you looking at the clock at all and weighing the force of the blows with the time left in the round?
Dean: Most definitely. I believe that if (Roy) has position on him in the beginning of the round, that means that he’s going to stay there for the whole round, obviously Kimbo couldn’t solve that position. But with those blows, was he not fighting back because he was hurt? No, he was fine. So I didn’t have any reason to stand or stop the fight. If the fighter is not hurt, why should I stop the fight?
MMAWeekly: So you felt the blows that Kimbo was taking in the second round were, whereas the ones in the first round weren’t?
Dean: Well, I believe that the blows were solid blows. In the first round, they were solid blows, just like in the second round, but in the second round, it was the beginning of the round that he was down there. I can’t allow him – he was not going to improve his position, he was not going to solve it – I couldn’t allow him five minutes of that in the second round. Could I allow him to take it for 30 seconds in the first? Sure.
MMAWeekly: Were your decisions in the ring influenced at all by Kimbo and his standing with the UFC?
Dean: No, I make calls based on my conscience, based on what I think is fair, what I think is the right thing to do. I’m the one that has to sleep at night. I sleep fine. I believe that I try to make the fairest, safest calls. This job is more serious than me continuing to do my job. People’s careers and their safety are on the line. I’m not going to make a political decision when the stakes are that large.
MMAWeekly: Roy said that he got into it with you after the fight…
Dean: Well, that’s not getting into it with me. He’s made a statement. By getting into it means that I guess I have to respond. He said some things. Whatever. Fighters say things all the time. I have a lot of respect for Roy, what he’s done in the sport. His statements that he’s making, I don’t really understand those. You’re there to try to win, try to beat the fighter, try to win in the most decisive way possible. Not to not be hurting your fighter, but taking advantage of a technicality for their safety.
MMAWeekly: Did you receive any feedback from the Nevada State Athletic Commission? Any from the UFC?
Dean: The commission was fine with my decision. The UFC doesn’t talk to me about my decision. I don’t know why people think that there’s a lot of communication with us going back and forth as far as what’s going on in the matches. There wasn’t anything that we needed to discuss. The fight was done, and we went home. It was pretty clear.