Herb Dean is the best referee in mixed martial arts.
I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. If there is a huge fight, I want Herb Dean in the cage. But, like the rest of us, Herb Dean is human and he makes mistakes. Unfortunately his last mistake was not in an untelevised preliminary bout, but in Urijah Faber’s career defining fight versus Renan Barao.
Faber is notoriously hard to stop and one of the most durable competitors in the sport. There was absolutely no reason for the stoppage. None of Barao’s ground and pound actually landed. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the GIF:
All of those punches landed to Faber’s shoulder, bicep, and glove. Another thing of note is that when Faber went down he was shooting for a takedown and used his right hand to wrap up the leg of Barao. He could have used that position to either stand up or go for another takedown. Faber was in no way out of the fight. Also, Dean has seen fighters go through much worse and let the fight go on. Take a look at his non-stoppage of UFC 140’s Frank Mir versus Antonio Minotauro Nogueria fight below:
Mir was rocked in a very similar fashion to Faber. He was hit with hard punches, did a little dance, then went down. He immediately grabbed Big Nog’s leg which was very similar to what Faber did, but there was a significant difference between the two. Mir did not block a single punch. He let Nog absolutely tee off on him! Faber was never in nearly as much danger as Mir. Dean did not stop the fight. Had he stopped it, we would have never seen one of the greatest comebacks and submissions in the UFC.
Mir versus Nogueria is not one of the only times that Dean has let a fight go on longer than Faber versus Barao. Take a look at the end of the first round from UFC 131’s main event Junior dos Santos versus Shane Carwin:
In this non-stoppage, Carwin blocked maybe two or three of dos Santos’ punches but was hit with thirty-eight (trust me I counted) shots to the head! When Barao versus Faber was stopped, Faber was hit ten times on the glove/bicep/shoulder area. None of the punches hit Faber square in the face. Can you honestly sit there and tell me that Shane Carwin was more intelligent in his defense than Faber? If taking punches to the face is more intelligent than covering up, there is something incredibly wrong with the officiating in this sport.
One of the more popular statements in defending the Barao/Faber stoppage is that Faber was not moving. As UFC and WEC veteran Danny Downes tweeted in response to the stoppage, “Movement does not equal defense.” Carwin was sort of moving, but you can’t sit there and say he had his wits about him to keep letting dos Santos slug him in the face. Simply put, Faber was in a bad spot. The outcome of the fight probably would not have changed had Dean let it go on, but you always give fighters a chance to recover in a title fight. You never know what could happen (Brock Lesnar, I’m looking at you).
Dean, you’re the best referee in the game. I hope to see you as the third man in the cage when Machida and Mousasi go to war next week, but you deserve an emphatic thumbs down for your stoppage of Barao versus Faber II.