As much as Dan Hardy has said already about his run-in with referee Herb Dean, he still thinks some things could use clearing up.
Hardy, a UFC color commentator and former welterweight title challenger, openly and loudly criticized Dean’s stoppage of Francisco Trinaldo’s knockout win over Jai Herbert on July 25 at UFC on ESPN 14.
“Yeah, but I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around this still,” Hardy recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’ve kind of put it out of my mind. It became so frustratingly irritating that people didn’t have the right information.”
UFC president Dana White, who was not in attendance on “Fight Island” to see the incident up close, voiced his displeasure with the idea of his employees confronting referees and said he had opened a dialogue with Hardy. However, Hardy said the wrong perception still exists among some in the general public when it comes to those comments.
“(Dean) came over to me and spoke to me at the desk,” Hardy said. (White saying), ‘You can never approach an official.’ That was not aimed at me. I’m not taking that as being aimed at me in any way. That was, to me, related to the fight the following week at UAE Warriors where one of the fighters wouldn’t let go of the choke and then pushed Marc Goddard, who was the official on that night. It was a bit of a mix of a reply from Dana at the press conference. That, to me, was what he was replying to. I didn’t approach an official.”
While Hardy noted that White’s comments weren’t completely directed at him, he revealed he’s had conversations with the UFC about the incident. He’s taken the company’s feedback into account but said he still feels a need to stand up for what he believes in.
“I’ve spoken to the UFC about it,” Hardy said. “They don’t want me shouting at the officials on the broadcast. That was my feedback from it. At the same time, I don’t want to be put in a position where an official isn’t doing their job. … I just want accountability. That’s all I want. We’re in a sport where people can get seriously hurt – permanently seriously hurt.”
Hardy’s actions and comments after the Dean didn’t go over well with some people, including Dean, who posted a lengthy social media video to explain his perspective of the perceived late stoppage.
Outside of competing in a few fights Dean officiated, Hardy said he hasn’t had many interactions with the referee. If Dean wants to talk privately or publicly about the situation, Hardy would be be happy to oblige.
“Herb has refereed me a couple of times,” Hardy said. “I’ve always respected him as a highly experienced official. There’s no denying he’s a good referee. There’s also no denying that he’s human, and people do make mistakes. We don’t grow unless we take accountability for those mistakes. That’s all it was about. I have nothing against Herb. If he wants a conversation with me about it, I will have one in private or in public. He can come on the podcast, and I’ll discuss it with him on record. There are lots of things we can all learn from it.”
More than anything, Hardy said he wants to be an advocate for fighter safety. If he sees something he perceives as wrong, he’s’ going to speak up. He’s grown with the sport and doesn’t want progress to be reverted.
“Ultimately, I’m just trying to make the sport better for everybody involved and make sure we keep in the mainstream, because we clawed and fought our way to get here,” Hardy said. “When I was fighting for a world title, it wasn’t about the fight. It was about why ‘human cockfighting’ was on TV. I got sick of having those conversations. I don’t want to go through all that ground again, because we’ve covered so much ground. But nonchalant attitudes toward refereeing is going to get us back there, and that’s what I’m trying to prevent.”