Position and speed can mean the difference between one additional concussive blow and three of them, and in the case of Derrick Lewis’ knockout of Curtis Blaydes, both were not entirely in favor of Herb Dean.
That’s according to veteran official and current Bellator commentator John McCarthy, who said that while Dean’s performance at UFC Vegas 19 was not perfect, it was as good as could be expected given the particular circumstances.
Dean, whose calls have been the subject of frequent controversy among fans, wrestlers and even UFC employees, found himself trending after a couple of heavyweight fights: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Chris Daukaus and Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis. In the first, Oleinik received several unanswered blows while covering his feet, while Blaydes received two while unconscious.
Dean was criticized for not stopping the Oleinik fight as soon as the Russian flopped. But McCarthy said Oleinik’s story may have played a factor in the leeway he had before he was eliminated from the fight.
Could Herb have stopped him earlier? Yeah, I could have, “McCarthy said on the” Weighing In “podcast that he co-hosts with UFC veteran Josh Thomson. “But there could be things that he was seeing at the time that were saying, ‘No, I have to drop that,’ and he’s worked with Olineik.”
While some fans online believed they saw Oleinik glaring at Dean in some kind of plea for intervention, McCarthy said it could just as easily have been the grizzled veteran’s attempt to let him fight longer.
“If you’re going to get 100 people to watch it, you might have 50 people say, ‘I would have stopped him sooner,’ and 50 people say, ‘I thought it was okay,’ McCarthy said. “Olineik didn’t hit the ground either, and when you have a guy who’s been in 75 fights in his career and hasn’t hit the ground and he’s trying to get back, sometimes we let that guy swim in deep water.
“When Herb thought he was drowning, he pulled it out. Will everyone agree with that? But that’s just your opinion. You are not standing there. “
Dean was there to catch Oleinik reeling after rejecting the fight just before the two minute mark of the first round. At the time, he was only a few feet away when the veteran’s balance became questionable. The same could not be said for his position when Blaydes was knocked unconscious while firing for a takedown near the start of the second frame in the evening’s headliner.
Lewis blamed Dean when Blaydes’ corner reportedly protested that the pair of punches landed on their fighter after the hard hit. But according to McCarthy, Lewis correctly called Dean the last decider of the fight’s end point.
“In the back, most umpires will say to the fighter, ‘Hey, go after him, you take down the guy, you stop when I tell you to stop.’ Don’t stop unless I tell you to stop, because we have guys who cheat.
“They will get stuck in a position, they will see where the referee is, they will put their hand and they will start hitting the fighter. The fighter lets go of the grip, and the referee doesn’t see it, and suddenly, the fighter below starts to fight, and the referee lets him go, and suddenly everything falls apart for the guy who should have. won the fight. “
McCarthy cited another fight Dean oversaw, Amanda Ribas versus Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257, as an example of how body language can go south. Rodriguez believed Dean was stepping in to stop the fight when he closed the gap after she dropped Ribas. But Dean made no contact and turned down the fight, so Rodriguez was forced to redouble her efforts.
McCarthy indicated that Lewis’s decision to hit Blaydes after the initial knockout was a choice. But it was one that he was within his rights to do.
“Does Derrick need to hit him again? No, it doesn’t, ”McCarthy said. That’s about him. But if Blaydes hits the ground, and if he hits the ground, it brings him back, and Derrick Lewis walks away, Herb will stay there and say, ‘You should have gone after him.
So Derrick did what he was supposed to do. The problem for Derrick is that Herb is behind him, so he has to move. Blaydes turns away from him. Trust me, that time for Herb is in slow motion. He’s trying to get there as fast as he can, and it seems like it’s taking forever. It’s very fast. Derrick Lewis can hit a lot of shots one second at a time. “
Lewis said after his win that he wasn’t sure if Blaydes would bounce back and get back in the fight. As debatable as it is, McCarthy has seen the fighters return from incredibly punishing shots.
Keeping everyone from landing was Dean’s job, and McCarthy believes the veteran referee did the best he could.
“He came as fast as he could,” McCarthy said. “Is Derrick Lewis wrong to hit Blaydes when he’s unconscious? No. That’s basically what happens sometimes. “
Check out the full video below.