WEDNESDAY, February 5th, 2014, AT 2:20 PM/ PST

Renan Barao Vs Urijah Faber
At UFC 169...

Controversial Stoppage or Safe Call?

Herb Dean

Dana White

Kim Winslow

Jon Schorle

Hal Morgan

OK Fight Fans, what did you think of Herb Dean's stoppage in this fight?
"Sometimes" (NOT all the time) I don't take much weight in what "Non" Officials say about a stoppage. However, more often than not, it's these "Non Officials" who see these calls for what they are, and are not afraid to make a firm statement. Such as what Dana White said in his post event interview. He is clear that he thought it was a bad call and he's a big Herb Dean fan.

WHITE At The UFC 169: Post-fight Press Conference:
"You've heard me up here a million times talk about Herb Dean.
I think he's the best referee in the business, He rarely ever makes mistakes, but he made a mistake tonight.
Faber was blocking those shots; he gave the thumbs up... etc. etc.

Scroll to the 3:34 Time on this clip:

White wasn't the only one seeing Dean's stoppage as a bad call. However, what gets me are all the "Star Struck" individuals in the sport that don't want to stick their neck out there and "Call it what it was"

That directly hurt a Fighters Career!"

We have heard many different people in the sport from Dana White to reporters to Athletic Commission Officials make some BIG ISSUES out of a referees bad call or a bad judges decision when these officials are not, per say, "Super Stars" of the fight sports. Hey, I like Herb Dean too, and John McCarthy and many more. However, like myself, it doesn't mean ANY of us are "Above the law!" If that was a referee such as Kim Winslow or Dan Stell or one of Dana's favorites (Not) Steve Mazzagatti making that stop, Dana and a boat load of others would have had a field day over it and would have made it their mission to do as much as they can to destroy their careers...

But no... This was Herb Dean... Who to many, it was just a "Little" mistake... Many except whos career that mistake hurt the most...Urijah Faber

"It's very frustrating, I'm one of the most durable guys in the world. You get caught with punches. He told me to do something, so I gave him a thumb's up right before he stopped it. Herb is a great referee. I just wish I would have had more of a chance. I'm the type of guy who likes to go to the bitter end. I'm holding onto the leg. He asked me for something, and I gave him a thumb's up, unless I was dreaming. I had some more fight in me."

Look, we all know that critics are a dime a dozen. However, there comes a time when even the critics need to "MAN UP" and call it what it is. I'm so tired of these critics jumping all over some officials ass that may not be "Mr. Popular" in the fight sports yet let the "Star officials" or "Star Promoters" get away with bad calls, bad decisions and bad bad actions! If you want to be a critic, be a fair one!


What I'm saying is, EVERYONE makes mistakes! So when they are made, you "Critics" of the sports need to be more like the FANS of the sport!

" If you're going to call out one official, CALL THEM ALL OUT! "

That being said,
"Herb, I'm a big fan, but hey, you made a BAD CALL!

I think this goes to prove to all you folks out there saying

"You need to be an MMA fighter, trainer, practitioner etc. etc to be a good official."

Although I have a lot of respect for those who made this very statement, as a regulator in the fight sports for over 20 years (And a former fighter, trainer and even promoter) I respectfully disagree with such a statement 100%!!!

Some of the BEST Officials I have seen in MMA (This statement also includes Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Boxing) have NEVER even rolled in a JuJitsu class (Or trained in any other full contact fight disciplines) let alone attained a high rank in any kind or been directly involved in MMA (Or other full contact fight sports) as a fighter or trainer. In fact, some of the BEST JUDGES I have seen came from a common place... They started liking the sport as a big fight fan!

Sometimes fans can see the purity of a bout without getting caught up in the various scoring criteria or worse yet, their association with a fighter or his/her trainer or even worse, if any politics play a part in an outcome. Politics usually come into play when we see these events that are not sanctioned by a state commission or even a sanctioning body. You know, the ones where the promoter basically sanctions him/herself or has created his/her own sanctioning body. Something very common here in the USA, ESPECIALLY in the State of Florida! These "Promoters" throw some letters together, do some copy and paste from an actual sanctioning body's web site rule page and "Wa-La"... They're a sanctioning body... Now these promoters have all their friends as their event officials which of course is a big plus for their own fighters fighting on their event... These promoters either never went to school or don't have access to the internet or they might know what the term "Conflict of Interest" means... After all, it's in the best interest of "These" officials in this scenario to "Keep their boss happy" so they can come back to work on his/her next event.

There is an additional issue though with fight sport officials. I "AM" in favor of a "REFEREE" having direct "FIGHT" experience. However, it doesn't always have to be in the fight sport they are referring. For example there is a well known boxing referee named Jon Schorle that is a good example of the rise and the fall of a good referee in our fight sports. Jon had his first job as a Kickboxing Referee with the ISCF's sister organization, the IKF (International Kickboxing Federation) when it first started back in 1992. Schorle learned a lot from an individual who at that time was a fighter and a trainer, Dan Stell. Dan would help Jon learn the various rule styles of Kickboxing/Muay Thai (Of which there are 4) and Jon also helped Dan better understand some of the ring mechanics of being a good referee.

Jon was a far better boxing referee than a kickboxing referee, but he was not a bad kickboxing referee. If anything, Jon was one of those Referees who would make quick stops like Herb Dean did with the Urijah Faber bout above. Most of this thought process came from Jon's experience as a USA Boxing Referee. In the mid 2000's, Jon, like a lot of State Athletic Commission Referees was assigned an MMA bout in California. By this time, Dan Stell had become a well know referee himself having been around the world with the IKF and was also, like Jon, a licensed referee with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). Without going into a lot of detail, Jon, like a lot of other CSAC Referees did not make a good MMA Referee. Hey... Not baggin on Jon, just "Calling it like it is!"

Jon attained a little of that that John McCarthy and Herb Dean Star power over the years. He was getting the big fights and was even in a few movies. As time past though Jon's ability as a referee diminished a little. He got some bad press from some late stoppages, early stoppages etc. in both Boxing and MMA. Was it because of his "Star" status he was attaining? Who knows.

What I "DO" know is when ANY Fight Sport Official ignores or blows off any useful constructive criticism, he's an official who doesn't think he need to get any better and instead, believes he/she knows everything. As a chief regulator in fight sports, this is the most disrespectful thing ANY Official can do to anyone. I for one personally LOVE Constructive Criticism! I believe it can only make an individual better, as well as an organization/company as it has with both the ISCF and IKF over the years. We all tend to know what we are doing right, what we are doing good at... What we Don't know is what we are doing wrong or where we need to improve. Sometimes it's the fight fans themselves that can be our most powerful critics, and many times, the most wise and truthful critics we will ever have.

Be it from the "Star Status" or maybe something in his "Personal Life," whatever it was, Jon had lost his edge and openness to his desire to always improve himself through constructive criticism. What we once saw as a good boxing and kickboxing referee who had a hunger to learn, like a lot of seasoned officials, felt he didn't need to learn anything more. I still see this a lot in some State Commission Officials and even within sanctioning body officials, including some associated with the ISCF and IKF. Once we lose that HUNGER to learn, to improve, we have also lost our edge... And as a fight sport official who's main job is the safety of all fighters, that's a very valuable thing to lose.

John McCarthy

Steve Mazzagatti

Dan Stell

Cam McHargue

Sean McCawley

There are a lot of MMA Referees out there that a lot of you may not know about because they have never been on the big UFC stage. However this isn't saying they are not deserving of it. Three referees come to mind right off the bat. The first one is one who retired from being an MMA referee because he was tired of all the drama and BS his state Athletic Commission was dishing out at the time. This is MMA referee Cam McHargue. I must say that Cam was without a doubt the first MMA referee I not only liked watching do his job but the first one I had great respect for as an MMA referee. Aside from his funky pants, Cam was never one of those "Grandstanding" Referees that felt they needed to be in front of the camera more than the fighters. After retiring as a Pro and Amateur MMA referee we used Cam whenever we could which included being a referee when the ISCF Sanctioned the International Fight League (IFL) and on the ISCF Amateur MMA World Classic Tournaments. Cam did his job and made sure not to get caught up in all the politics and or drama that may have surrounded MMA at the time. My main wish today is that I hope at some time Cam makes a decision to help the sport and come back to being an MMA Referee. the sport NEEDS Quality Referees as well as Quality individuals like him!

The two others I'm thinking of work with the ISCF out of California. They are Hal Morgan and Sean McCawley. BOTH I would put under the bright lights on a pro stage ANY DAY of the week! Both are still hungry and open to learning while at the same time, both show great sense and awareness in the cage. These are just 2 examples of a lot of MMA referees across the USA, North America and around the world that have great ability, but have not seen the big stages yet. Maybe it's due to political drama or favoritism who knows. The reality is, these guys are great Referees and I truly wish the World of MMA would see more of them.

This trend of having Boxing referees jump in the ring to do kickboxing has been a failure more often than a success and was not just centered in California. This trend was and still is happening around North America and around the world. The trend got even worse when some of these referees jumped into a ring or cage and tried to referee an MMA bout. Some held their own but more often than not, the majority failed miserably! However, there are of course some very good referees who have made the transition into all "Full Contact" fight sports. Not because they have trained in or fought in all of these fight sports but more so, simply because they are very good referees who have drilled the general mechanics of being a good referee into their actions over and over again. In my 20+ years of regulating fight sports I have seen that more often, these referees are Martial Artists who have little or no problem with changing and adapting to their given environment.

One of these individuals that ranks up there with the very best in all 3 "Full Contact" fight sports (Boxing, Kickboxing/Muay Thai and MMA) is Dan Stell. I've known Dan for a long time. Some may think I'm only talking about him because I've known him for so long. However, if anything, I've been more judgemental, critical as well as a critic of him through the years more than any other official I know. To add, Dan and I have always had personal issues here and there but that has never clouded my judgement of him as a Full Contact Fight Sport Referee! Simply put, all I'm doing here is "Calling it as it IS!" Unlike a lot of other Boxing and Kickboxing/Muay Thai Referees that continue to fail over and over as MMA Referees, Dan has been consistently good in all 3 "Full Contact" fight sports (Boxing, Kickboxing/Muay Thai and MMA). By far he is the BEST Referee I have seen in Kickboxing and Muay Thai (Even comparing him to well known Muay Thai Referees I have seen around the world) He is highly respected as a Boxing Referee too. As for an MMA referee? Well, don't expect Dan to recite to you all the moves John McCarthy teaches in his $600.00 MMA Referee Course. However, what you CAN EXPECT is for Dan to know when to stop a bout and when not to as a center referee. A LOT of which comes from being a former Kickboxing Champion along with what every other official or fight fan does... Study the sport...

Sure, Dan, as any referee (Such as Herb Dean) has made some questionable calls. However NOT so much that he should be left out of the BIG events. Dan is a prime example of a Referee being good because he has fight experience as a Kickboxer.

Most "BOXING" Referees still have a lot of trouble judging the leg strikes and knowing what kind of pain comes with them.On the flip side we have seen very few MMA Referees be good Kickboxing/Muay Thai or Boxing Referees. In fact, I have yet to ever see a Referee who started out in MMA make a successful transition to Kickboxing, Muay Thai or even Boxing.

If Dan Stell or any of these other referees brought up here would have made the call Herb Dean did in UFC 169 the reporters and more so, Dana White would have went ballistic about it! Instead, Dana, like a lot of others in todays media "Gave Herb a pass...." They were all either afraid or too respectful of Herb to simply "Call it as it IS!"

In closing, we all have one thing in common,
"To Assure In All Possible Ways The Safety And Fairness Of The Fighters."
This being said, not all MMA Referees are going to be as good as the sports founding father John McCarthy who I think we can all agree here is without question, the Best MMA Referee in the business...
No Ass Kissin here John, just "Calling it as it IS!"
As for the incident that sparked this article... Well, at least we can be thankful that Herb isn't being called on the carpet for a LATE STOPPAGE or a stoppage that had any negative medical outcome such as a major injury or even worse.

Speaking of this issue, here is a good read for everyone:
Second Impact Syndrome

The ISCF Mission For Mixed Martial Arts...
"Safety, Credibility, Fairness, Recognition, Support & Unification
of Mixed Martial Arts Around The World"

"The goal of the International Sport Combat Federation is to regulate safe and fair rules and regulations and help provide exposure and opportunities for local, regional, national and international competition among amateur and professional mixed martial arts fighters, trainers, promoters and officials. We will, through adherence to and enforcement of these rules and regulations, strive to make competitive mixed martial arts fighting a safe and fair sport as we continue to help bring exposure to and enhance the present as well as the future of the sport we serve, Mixed Martial Arts."
Steve Fossum
President International Sport Combat Federation

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SPECIAL NOTE: The ISCF has A LOT of GREAT Referees working our events. Just because they may not have been mentioned in the above article is not saying they are not good officials. To list them all would have made this article too long to post so we apologize for those other Very Good Referees we did not mention.
To see other ISCF Certified Referees and Officials click HERE!