Veteran MMA referee Herb Dean is used to being praised for the expert way he handles the bouts he officiates, but was criticized by some this past weekend following a highly confusing situation during UFC Fight Night 84’s Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping headliner.
The controversy arose when Anderson Silva landed a flying knee in the final second of round three, dropping Bisping. When Dean jumped in to signal the end of the round, Silva assumed he had won and began celebrating.
“Well, (Silva) hit him with the knee and dropped him, and then he walked off and started to celebrate,” Dean recalled on The MMA Hour. “He had been dropped, but you know, in MMA we don’t stop the match just because someone gets dropped. I saw that when he fell he was not unconscious. He was facing Anderson. Anderson didn’t give him a threat to protect himself from, but – I don’t want to start playing what if, what if he attacked and whatnot – the bottom line is he didn’t attack. The round ended and, because Anderson was celebrating, there was some confusion as to what was going on. But I never had any confusion. I knew that I hadn’t stopped the match and that the match was going to continue.”
Among Dean’s biggest critics on the night was Bisping himself. The Brit blamed Dean for him getting hit with Anderson’s flying knee after he dropped his gumshield in the closing seconds of the third round and was signaling Dean to pause the action so he could replace it.
But Dean explained that, so long as Anderson was attacking, he had an obligation to let the action continue.
“That’s the way the mechanic works, is that you replace the mouthpiece during a lull in the action, and (Bisping) signaled once, and Anderson was actually in the process of attacking him,” Dean said. “For a lot of reasons that are pretty evident you can’t stop to replace the mouthpiece during a heated exchange, and that qualified as a heated exchange. If we were doing that, we’d have guys getting their bell rung, spitting out the mouthpiece to get a little extra time or sometimes you’re feeling a little tired, just spit your mouthpiece out. So obviously we can’t do that in the middle of an exchange.”
Bisping went on to defeat Anderson via unanimous decision, though the contest was close and hard-fought.