ABU DHABI – UFC’s senior vice president David Shaw revealed conversations would take place back home in Las Vegas following Dan Hardy’s on-air outburst at referee Herb Dean and subsequent exchange between the pair after Francisco Trinaldo’s TKO win over Jai Herbert at UFC on ESPN 14.
Hardy and his co-commentary colleague Paul Felder were both clearly upset by Dean’s handling of the finish to Trinaldo’s stoppage win over debutant Herbert, after the fight was allowed to continue, despite Herbert appearing to be knocked stiff by a huge punch from the Brazilian.
Both men were vocal in their calls for Dean to step in and stop the fight, while even Trinaldo stopped to allow Dean to wave it off, before eventually continuing and landing four unanswered shots at the clearly scrambled Herbert before the fight the referee intervened.
Hardy was incensed, and photographs shared from cageside showed the former welterweight title challenger remonstrating with the official in the aftermath of the fight before the Englishman recomposed himself to conduct the post-fight interview with Trinaldo.
When asked about the incident at the post-fight press conference, Shaw admitted: “I wasn’t on the floor when it happened. I did hear some of the comments on the broadcast. Here’s the thing, being a ref in MMA is one of the hardest roles that you can have, and Herb Dean is one of our best, categorically. (The) bottom line is, health and safety of the athletes is of paramount importance. On the other side, you’ve got a guy like Hardy who, very successful MMA career, an excellent analyst right now, but he’s passionate and he’s fiery.
“The important thing for us to do is to try and get a handle and try to get an understanding of what actually happened. Obviously, this is not something that you address with either one of the parties during the show. These guys have a job to do and so we certainly don’t want to disrupt their efforts to do an excellent job, as we expect they always will. So we’ll go back, we’ll check it out, try to get a better understanding of what happened and really take it from there.”
Hardy’s response drew words of support from the UFC’s lead play-by-play commentator Jon Anik, who tweeted, “Dan Hardy has always had my respect as one of the best MMA minds/analysts out there but he’s especially deserving of praise tonight. Analysts must be critical when they believe the situation calls for it. Can’t hold back. He didn’t. He’s not trying to make friends.”
But Shaw hinted that Hardy may have stepped out of line by interacting with Dean during the event, noting that officials should only be approached by regulatory staff during events.
“I guess the bottom line is there’s one group of people that are able to talk to officials during the fight night, and that’s (Marc) Ratner’s regulatory group, and no one else,” he clarified. “So we’ll see what happens next week when we get back to the office.”