Over the years, there has been a discussion to hold referees accountable for missed calls in MMA. Announcers, especially those who are former or current fighters, have made that clear. Most of the time it doesn’t lead to much. When there is no noise except your own in the arena, however, it can lead to a confrontation.
This past Saturday at UFC on ESPN 14, Dan Hardy got into the face of referee Herb Dean following the conclusion of Francisco Trinaldo v. Jai Herbert. Hardy could be heard inside the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi telling Dean to stop the fight. This was due to Trinaldo landing multiple shots on Herbert following a shot that had that Herbert on his back. Not calling the fight off, Hardy ended up taking off his mic to try and speak with Dean.
You can see Hardy yelling below:
Hardy made his MMA debut in 2004. After appearing for Cage Warriors and King of the Cage, Hardy made his UFC debut in 2008 at UFC 89. He won his first four fights (to go on a seven-fight win streak) before losing to Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Title. Hardy is 6-4 with the UFC, his last fight a win in 2012 against Amir Sadollah.
Dean and others have been known to make a few errors during the last few weeks of events. Hardy has since discussed his actions on social media, stating:
“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.
“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.”
Dean sent out a post on social media defending his call. He stated that Hardy was not in the cage and that his specific job is to not do his. While not calling him out by name, Dean teased that it was Hardy. He also mentioned that only two individuals can tell him when to call the fight: the ringside physician and the fighter’s corner.
UFC Senior Vice President David Shaw was able to view the footage, and he decided that both parties will be meeting with UFC brass when they return to the United States. Following UFC on ESPN 14, Shaw had the following to say:
“I wasn’t on the floor when it happened. I did hear some of the comments on the broadcast. Here’s the thing: Being a ref in MMA is one of the hardest roles that you can have, and Herb Dean is one of our best, categorically. (The) bottom line is, health and safety of the athletes is of paramount importance. On the other side, you’ve got a guy like Hardy who, very successful MMA career, an excellent analyst right now, but he’s passionate, and he’s fiery,” Shaw stated, via MMA Junkie.
“The important thing for us to do is to try and get a handle and try to get an understanding of what actually happened. Obviously, this is not something that you address with either one of the parties during the show. These guys have a job to do, and so we certainly don’t want to disrupt their efforts to do an excellent job, as we expect they always will. So we’ll go back, we’ll check it out, try to get a better understanding of what happened and really take it from there.”
It is unknown what actions, if any, will be brought down towards Hardy and Dean.