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Herb Dean explains real reason why he didn't stop Volkanovski vs Ortega

Shamanth Jayaram October 5, 2021
UFC 168: Weidman vs Silva 2
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Everybody’s favourite referee Herb Dean came under a lot of criticism following UFC 266 for allowing Brian Ortega to continue fighting against Alexander Volkanovski beyond the third round.

The featherweight title bout will go down as one of the greatest fights in the history of the division. Both men had the chance to get one over the other, but it was Volkanovski who dug deep and defended his crown.

Ortega, however, has earned a ton of respect from everyone who follows the sport. Even Volkanovski was stunned by his display, but the champ made it clear in his press conference that the fight should have been stopped after round three.

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Herb Dean explains why he allowed Brian Ortega to continue

The 51-year-old, arguably the most popular and loved referee in the sport, said over the weekend in an interview with Helen Yee: “I don’t think his cornerman helped him. He was laying there, wasn’t getting up.

“I think it was more of a ‘hey, it’s time to get up, let’s get moving.’ Cause once they grabbed it was not like they had to lift him up. Once they put hands on him, he was getting up on the stool. I can’t speak for him, but I know what it feels like to struggle with yourself.

“He was definitely spending some time talking to himself there, figuring out, digging deep, finding the strength to go on. At the end of the round, it was exhaustion. He had given it his all.

“Then, the physician comes in and medically clears him, says he’s clear. Some of his answers weren’t exactly clear but then when he looked at me and gave clear answers like ‘yes, I see, yes, I want to continue’. You could see he was ready to compete again.

Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Definitely was close to being stopped at the end of the round. A fighter has the right to make that decision (to continue). He made it to the rest period. His problem was that he was tired. I think getting home breaths in a minute of rest would be the best thing for him. He has the right to make that decision.”

To everyone watching at home, it looked like Ortega was done. T-City had given everything in that third round and was exhausted at the bell. The fight could easily have been called off, but Dean continued and it went the distance.

Volkanovski defended his crown and is still the best in the division. It will be interesting to see who he fights next. There are rumours he may jump up to 155 to face Conor McGregor, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon due to the latter’s injury.

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
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Shamanth works as a senior editor at GRV Media. Based in Bangalore, India, he's a massive Arsenal fan who also enjoys a bit of UFC every now and then.