MMA referees have one of the most difficult jobs in sports.
They have to react lightning fast and have to have good judgement when deciding whether or not to stop a fight. This comes with making the right choice to ensure safety for both fighter as well as keeping a clean and far fight.
Referee Herb Dean had his hands full in the main event of UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega.
Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega clashed in Las Vegas for the featherweight title. The two would refuse to quit during their 5-round war.
Volkanovski would barely get out of Ortega submission attempt’s and Ortega would finally answer the bell in round 3 after getting battered.
‘T-City’ almost didn’t make it to the judges decision however. After the first 15 minutes of the fight, Ortega laid on the Octagon canvas for 10 seconds after the round was over. It looked like he was done as Volkanovski walked unfazed to his corner.
Ortega’s team would help him up from the floor and escorted their fighter to the stool.
After a minute of rest, Ortega spoke to a doctor and Herb Dean, who asked him questions to ensure he was okay enough to continue. The badly beaten Ortega would barely squeak by, but he passed the test.
Many people online criticized that the fight should have been stopped right then and there, because of Ortega’s poor condition.
Herb Dean could have come up that verdict– and he almost did. But given that the fight made it to decision with Ortega taking a round (5) on a judges scorecard, Dean stands by his decision.
“I don’t think his cornerman helped him.” Dean told Helen Yee. “He was laying there, wasn’t getting up. I think it was more of a ‘hey, it’s time to get up, let’s get moving.’ Cause once they grabbed it was not like they had to lift him up. Once they put hands on him, he was getting up on the stool.
“I can’t speak for him, but I know what it feels like to struggle with yourself. He was definitely spending some time talking to himself there, figuring out, digging deep, finding the strength to go on.”
Dean says Ortega’s state at the end of round 3 was due to pure exhaustion.
At the end of the round, it was exhaustion. He had given it his all. Then the physician comes in and medically clears him, says he’s clear. Some of his answers weren’t exactly clear but then when he looked at me and gave clear answers like ‘yes, I see, yes, I want to continue’. You could see he was ready to compete again.”
Everybody Is A Critic
When asked about the negativity he got for not stopping the fight, Dean gave a very simple response to the haters on why he didn’t put an end to the war. He would admit it was very close to stopping.
“Definitely was close to being stopped at the end of the round.”
“A fighter has the right to make that decision (to continue).” Dean added. “He made it to the rest period. His problem was that he was tired. I think getting home breaths in a minute of rest would be the best thing for him. He has the right to make that decision.”
Do you agree with Herb Dean’s reasoning?