There was some mixed opinions about Herb Dean’s decision to not stop the fight between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. Veteran ref Mark Smith explains why Herb made the right call in that instance.
As one of the most used referees in the UFC, Smith is a familiar face inside the UFC Octagon. In 2020, Mark was the third man in the cage for nearly 60 fights, including some of the biggest bouts of the year.
Many people, Joe Rogan included, calling refereeing the toughest job outside of actual fighting, and it is easy to understand why. These guys are responsible for split-second decisions that affect the future of an athlete, in and out of competition.
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Mark Smith Agreed With Herb Dean
One of the more recent fights that garnered a lot of attention on the referee, was between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. With how dominant Max was looking, many thought that the fight should have been stopped, particularly in the fourth round.
Yet Herb Dean did not make that call, letting the fight go on to an eventual decision. Mark Smith agrees with that decision, as he explained when speaking with Joe Rogan recently.
Of course, Mark admits that there is a case to be made for the fight being stopped. However he feels that Calvin was showing enough intelligent defense to keep the fight going.
“If you stop a fight while somebody is standing up, you’re just going to get crucified for that,” Smith said.
“There’s no one better than Big John (McCarthy) and Herb Dean. They’ve been doing this for so long. So their eye of what they’re looking at, it comes down to intelligent defense.
“That’s not just holding your hands up, that needs to translate into doing something offensive. If you can tell that a guy is listening to your verbal commands and he’s doing something to fight back, as long as he’s showing some good cognitive skills and showing something offense, where he’s not looking at longterm injury, there’s a possibility of him letting that fight go.
“But man, if it’s starting to stem on a 10-7 round, where a fighter is just getting destroyed and they’re going to get hurt, now it’s our responsibility to step in for fighter’s safety.”
That Tony Ferguson Armbar
One of the biggest fights that Mark Smith refereed last year, was the bout between Tony Ferguson and Charles Oliveira. This contest saw the Brazilian secure an armbar so deep, that El Cucuy’s arm was bending backwards.
It was a gruesome scene that the referee let continue. Mark explained that this is because he was aware of the short time left in the round, and was watching for any verbal submission or signs of a break, but did not see anything.
“That was beyond human, because when Charles transitioned from across the chest, to under the underarm, Tony grunted and he bared through it,” Smith said.
“I’m doing two things, I’m looking for a dislocation, separation or break, but I’m also listening to see if it’s going to be a verbal submission. He did not, he battled through that.
“We’ve got to be conscious of the time, so the ten second clapper had already gone off. I’m counting in my head, and the goal is to, right when that horn goes off, you’ll see when we stop a submission from that, we got right to the pressure point, push back the opposite way, and take off the pivot point in his underarm to stop it.
“Some guys will try to hold it for an extra second after the bell goes off. Right as that stops, I’m pushing on it and stopping it, also verbally telling the guy to stop because you don’t want any extra damage after the bell.”
Hearing these views from Mark Smith paint an interesting picture of the constant string of thoughts going through the head of a referee in the middle of a fight. It is not an easy job by any means, and it requires a fine balance between going too far and not far enough.