It’s not often you see commentators get into a heated discussion with a ref during a live event. Yet that’s what went down Saturday on “Fight Island” (Yas Island, Abu Dhabi) as the UFC’s well-publicized stint there came to a close.
At the end of the Francisco Trinaldo-Jai Herbert preliminary card bout at UFC Fight Island 3, ref Herb Dean was ridiculously slow to wave off the fight. Herbert had been knocked down, frankly knocked senseless, and was barely defending himself. Certainly not very intelligently. The powerful blow from Trinaldo had seemingly won him the fight. Even he knew any more damage to Herbert was unnecessary, and pulled back.
Dean, generally one of the better MMA refs, for some reason did not agree. He allowed the fight to continue, refusing to intervene until Trinaldo reluctantly landed a couple of extra, wholly unnecessary blows to the still-dazed Herbert.
If ever there was a late stoppage, it was that one. And it left UFC analyst and former fighter Dan Hardy incensed enough to exchange words with Dean after the bout — a scene caught on camera.
Dan Hardy rippin Herb Dean a new one pic.twitter.com/uzpfwQzFcf
— MMA Gone Wild 🅙 (@mmagonewild) July 26, 2020
UFC Senior VP of International and Content David Shaw said during the event’s post-fight press conference that the promotion would look into the matter. Mainly due to the fact that only their Regulatory Affairs group, led by Marc Ratner, is supposed to be in contact with officials during the event.
Meanwhile, Hardy himself addressed the issue in a statement posted to social media. The full text can be found below.
I love Mixed Martial Arts. Sometimes it doesn’t love me back though, and that’s alright. Regardless, I’ll always do everything in my power to protect it, and those dedicating themselves to it.
Sometimes you may disagree with me, and that’s alright as well. I’m always going to speak my mind, and it will always be backed by what I feel in my heart.
If you understand what it takes to get in there, then you understand my passion and anger when I see a fighter left unprotected. It isn’t the first time it’s happened, and twice in a night is clear negligence, in my opinion.
The referees job is more important than any other person in that building. It is on their shoulders to protect fighters from getting seriously hurt when they are unable to protect themselves.
You may just see UFC fighters in there, but I see friends, teammates, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, competing in the sport that they love.
When I make a mistake, I look stupid on live TV. When a referee makes a mistake, people are left vulnerable and can be seriously damaged. That can be life-changing, and we all have someone to go home to, that loves us and wants us back in one piece.
Thank you for all of the kind words and messages I’ve received. I am truly grateful. I’ll see you all around…
Plenty in the MMA community have come to Hardy’s defense. Including broadcast partner Jon Anik and numerous others. Give your thoughts on the call in the comment section below!