Veteran Referee Herb Dean Made One of the Worst Mistakes of His Career During the UFC’s Debut in Moscow… He Won’t Want to Look to Look Back at this One…

Let’s get this straight from the start: Herb Dean is usually an excellent referee. Along with the likes of ‘Big’ John McCarthy, Marc Goddard and Steve Magnaliatto, he’s one of the most recognizable MMA referees out there – and usually for positive reasons.

The 47-year-old has been an MMA referee forever. He’s also fought professionally, establishing a record of 2 wins and 3 losses. Generally, he’s known to let the fight flow, establishing a safe environment for both fighters to compete against each other.

Even the best make mistakes though, and Dean certainly isn’t infallible. This one was one of the latest stoppages we’ve seen in the UFC in a long time. Take a look at the footage below, where C.B Dolloway gets battered by Khablib Murtazalieb. He definitely let this one go on for too long.

Big Mistake

A mistake in MMA refereeing isn’t like a mistake in other sports. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a fighter’s life – nevermind career – can change because the referee failed to intervene in time. This happened in Moscow when Dolloway was fighting Murtazalieb in a middleweight clash.

It was competitive until the Russian fighter managed to floor Dolloway. Then he unleashed a barrage of ground-and-pound that really should have seen a much quicker intervention by Dean. Honestly, this footage is very uncomfortable viewing.

Poor Judgement

According to the laws of the sport, if a fighter is not able to or isn’t capable of defending themselves, the fight should be stopped. This was definitely the case for Dolloway, who took a proper beating. It was like someone repeatedly punching someone over and over on the street. Not good at all. Commentator and former fighter Dan Hardy said:

“Dollaway’s had enough. Dollaway’s curled up in a ball. He’s had enough. He’s trying to fight back, but there’s just no energy left in his body… Surely this fight needs stopping. Surely this fight needs stopping.”

That pretty much sums up the desperation that people were feeling as they watched this fight go down.


Dean is certainly one of the most consistent referees in the business. He has made mistakes in the past, but the man has refereed hundreds of matches, so of course, he will have. He shouldn’t be hated for this, but should definitely be called out because this sort of behavior shouldn’t be normalized. It’s a bad look for the sport. Hardy said:

“He’s refereed me many times and has always been excellent with his judgment call, but for me, that should have been stopped probably 10 strikes earlier.”

That’s without a doubt. The Twitter reaction was emphatic. Dean made a big mistake. Referees have a responsibility to keep fighters safe. That’s paramount. We’ve seen the likes of Mario Yamasaki make similar errors of judgment. The most confusing part is that these guys are literally right beside the fighter. What’s going through their heads?

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