Herb Dean is one of the most respected referees in mixed martial arts, having called several of the most important matches in the history of the sport. However, his recent decision that resulted in Frank Mir breaking the arm of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria has come under heavy scrutiny.
Dean, in an interview with Sherdog.com, discussed why he let the match continue as long as he did. Mir picked up his second career victory over “Minotauro” at UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida earlier this month.
“In my mind, I was hoping that he would tap,” Dean said. “I was really focused on that arm. But that’s how Antonio became who he is – he didn’t get there by giving up. I stopped it because I saw the arm break. The tap came after.”
While the result was 16 screws and a plate inserted into his arm, the toughness of Nogueira has never been questioned. That is partially the reason Dean let the hold stay on for as long as he did.
“I don’t stop it when I believe it’s locked on or even if I believe the guy’s in jeopardy because I don’t know what that person can take,” Dean said. “I don’t know what their limits are, but if I see an injury that is too dangerous for the fight to continue, that’s when I’m going to stop the fight.”
Despite knowing what had just happened, Dean said Nogueira was very calm after the match, adding, “He’s an exceptional person. Even during that, coordinating with the physicians and him getting out of there, at some point he started taking an active role. ‘Ok, Herb, I want you to help me up.’ He was pretty calm through it.”
Nogueira is looking at several months of rehab, with his doctor saying he could be back to fighting in the summer of 2012.