26 Jul [MMA] 
5 biggest takeaways from UFC on ESPN 14: Dan Hardy vs. Herb Dean, Gustafsson's next move, more

What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 14 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi? Here are a few post-fight musings …

* * * * *

1. Dan Hardy vs. Herb Dean

One of the bigger talking points from this event was the conflict between referee Herb Dean and color commentator Dan Hardy, who had what’s now turned into a well-publicized spat stemming from stoppage in Francisco Trinaldo’s TKO of Jai Herbert.

There are two obvious things to be noted about this situation: First, the fight was absolutely stopped late. It was over when Trinaldo landed a bomb that dropped Herbert like a sack of potatoes, and there was no need for Dean to wait for the Brazilian to land four extra shots on his grounded foe. Second, Hardy is well within his right to criticize the finish to not just this fight, but any fight he wants from his commentary position.

The key words there, though, are from his commentary position. The lines started to blur when Hardy went out of his designated position of the booth to vocalize his feelings directly to Dean. Was the face-to-face tongue-lashing justified? Probably. Dean messed this one up. But that’s not Hardy’s role. There are regulators cageside in actual positions of authority who can express opinions and discipline Dean, if merited, after a bad call.

Not to get it twisted: Hardy’s passion is appreciated, and he made it clear both in the moment and in his statement after the event that he’s merely trying to hold the referees accountable and look out for the athletes stepping in the octagon, because he of all people knows how dangerous the sport can be. Those are the kinds of people we need in MMA, but he can’t allow his emotions to spill outside his duties on a live broadcast.

Despite the UFC’s claim it will investigate the situation, it’s unlikely much comes of this. Ideally, it serves as a learning lesson for all involved. Dean has been the gold standard for refereeing for a long time, and because of that his mistakes are magnified compared to other referees. He’s made some notable errors in recent years, and this was one of them.

Thankfully, Herbert doesn’t appear to have been seriously injured in the loss, and all we can hope for is that Dean does better going forward.