In Defence of Herb Dean

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Social media and Dana White had plenty to say about Herb Dean’s decision to stop last nights UFC 169 main event between Renan Barao & Urijah Faber.

While it’s true that Faber sat straight up after the stoppage and seemed not at all out of it before speaking clearly and intelligently to Joe Rogan (no mean feat at the best of times) after the decision, stating that he was OK and gave Dean the thumbs up when asked to improve his position – I have no issue with the stoppage, in fact I think it was totally good.

Look at it from the referee’s point of view. Here is a fighter who’d already been dropped a minute earlier and had seemed on unsteady legs after doing very well to get back to his feet, rocked a few times and then dropped again.

With Barao swarming him and landing blows (albeit mostly to the hand Faber had up to protect his head), Faber lay immobile and face down for a good five seconds, absorbing at least fifteen uncontested blows.

The fact that he was still conscious and was arguably intelligently defending himself (by grabbing Barao’s leg with one arm and covering up with the other) does not outdo the fact that the referee can’t SEE that you are still conscious, as the way Faber was defending was static, Herb couldn’t see his face (or the thumb’s up*) and he was absorbing damage.

*In the picture at the head of this article, Herb Dean is positioned off to the right – the best place to watch Barao’s offence and Faber’s reaction to it. notice how faber’s head is down and the thumb he attempted to signal with is obscured by Barao’s leg and activity from Dean’s perspective.

Fighter safety comes first and with a fighter who’s already been rocked and dropped more than once lying immobile, face down and taking strikes, the referee has no moral or professional choice but to call the stoppage.

Basically, Herb did a good job and while Urijah can perhaps feel a little hard done by, it’s clear he has the support of the UFC brass and I’d be astonished if he wasn’t in line for a title shot again pretty soon, given the thin nature of the Bantamweight division, his own evident star power and in ring talent.

Picture credit to espn.co.uk

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