Confusion and misunderstanding remains about Dan Hardy and Herb Dean’s verbal showdown at UFC Fight Island 3, according to Hardy. But the former UFC commentator still doesn’t regret his actions that day.
“My main goal is for the fighters to be protected, and he’s always present at regular events and he always makes mistakes,” Hardy said Monday. MMA time. “He always agitates the fighting at the end of the turn. He still doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing. It concerns me. It really is, because at some point our sport is going to be negatively affected by someone not doing their job, and we’re all going to be affected by that, and we’re all going to be saddened by it.
“This weekend was a good example. We were close to it. Brian ortega [at UFC 266], same situation. None of these people will be around in 15 or 20 years when these guys can’t remember their children’s names. This is the thing that we must not forget.
Dean was not working at the event Hardy is referring to, UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi. But like many who watched the event, the former UFC welterweight title challenger reacted strongly to referee Vyacheslav Kiselev’s performance in a welterweight bout between Elizeu Zalesky. dos Santos and Benoit Saint-Denis. After Saint-Denis was allowed to take a massive amount of damage en route to a loss of decision, the promotion took the unusual step of removing him from subsequent fights during the event. UFC President Dana White called the referee’s performance “disgusting” amid immediate outcry from fight fans.
As one of MMA’s most experienced umpires, Dean has been at the center of dozens of high profile MMA fights without a hitch. But it has also been at the center of several controversies, especially in recent years. At UFC Fight Island 3 in July 2020, he angered Hardy for a pair of saves that included a knockout of Jai Herbert in a fight against Francisco Trinaldo.
To this day, Hardy believes White and the others misunderstand what really happened after the fight. He does not dispute that he very vocally requested that the action be stopped when Herbert hit the canvas, believing that the British fighter was unconscious. What he disputes are reports that surfaced immediately after he approached Dean next to the cage after the fight was over.
What really happened, he said, was Dean approached him at his broadcast table “at a rate” and confronted him.
“As soon as the fight was over, I was now in my place on the show, I finished commenting on the fight, I took off my helmet so that I could turn around and face the camera to interview Trinaldo, because it was was the social distancing talks, “Hardy explained.” So I’m still behind my desk. As I stand up, I notice Herb Dean coming out of the cage and coming towards me. And Herb isn’t moving particularly fast, and he was moving fast. He was walking towards my desk with a step. So, I’m not going to turn my back on him, of course, so I take off my headset and cut it off, so you can’t hear what’s going on on the show, and we had a back-and-forth conversation.
Some of this was picked up over hot mics, and Hardy then interviewed Trinaldo. But that was not the end of the fallout from the confrontation. Hardy said that when he got backstage, a UFC producer confronted him and “was screaming… because I had gone to confront him.”
“I never did – I stayed at my desk,” Hardy said. “And when I brought it up to the UFC afterwards, their advice was, ‘You should have turned your back. “And as a martial artist, I could never do that. I can see this guy coming towards me with a rhythm, I’m going to get up and be ready. He was hunched over my desk. So maybe with that. In hindsight, if I had complained about that, I might have found myself in a more protected position.
Hardy had plenty of time to think about how he might have acted differently in this situation as well as another incident with a UFC staff member that would have led to his firing from the UFC. He acknowledges that he wasn’t 100% right about how he communicated his concerns about what was going on, and yet he thinks he was right to speak out, whether it was for the fighters or for himself.
“I was wrong to yell at the referee on the show – I’m well aware of that,” he said. “It was my mistake, and I will assume that mistake. But I’ll stick with it, because sometimes they need someone who will. If it was a silent arena on Saturday [at UFC 267], you would have heard [Daniel Cormier] and [Paul] Felder did the same, halfway through the second round of a fight that went the distance, and we had no one to protect this fighter.
“My concern is that the reaction to that was that I was the one in the wrong, and I was the one that was avoided, even though the referee was not at all thoughtful with two late saves on the same card. I think the most familiar faces, they get a level of respect that is due, sure, but we have to make sure these people are protecting the fighters. “