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Herb Dean Defends His Stoppage Of Robbie Lawler Vs. Ben Askren

The veteran referee joined Joe Rogan on a recent episode of his JRE MMA Show podcast to explain his controversial Askren/Lawler stoppage.

The now infamous UFC 235 main-card matchup is one that will live long in the memory not only for its divisive finish.

As the eagerly-anticipated debut of the former Bellator and ONE Championship champion Ben Askren, the fight, while it lasted, was quite frankly incredible.

Lawler somehow managed to completely mess with our expectations by lifting the former Olympian above his head, slamming him down hard on the mat, and then unloading a massive barrage of ground-and-pound.

All of this happened before the first-minute was through.

Somehow, against all odds, Askren found his feet and eventually, took the back of the former champion before wrapping him up in a bulldog-choke that would eventually see referee Herb Dean stop the fight.

The controversy stemmed from the fact that Dean did so based off of the belief that Lawler was unconscious after checking his arm for movement.

At the time, it looked as though it had gone limp.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 06: Robbie Lawler looks on against Johny Hendricks in their welterweight title fight during the UFC 181 event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

When Robbie sprung back up directly after the fight was called, instantly Dean knew something was wrong.

However, in a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, he explained his side and how with a choke like the bulldog choke, no risks can be taken due to the stress placed on a fighter’s neck.

“When I see some chokes, a rear-naked choke, especially with the guy on the back face up, I take a sigh of relief. My job just got so much easier. It’s not like he’s gonna go out and in a second, take some extreme amount of damage. He may go out, I’ll have a second to make sure – not even a second – a half a breath, to make sure he’s OK. And then let it go out and he’s not gonna take any other damage. (via Bloody Elbow)

“A bulldog choke – anytime you have a choke where there’s pressure on the neck and to see the spine backwards like that, that’s a rough situation for me. So I see someone go limp, and I know that on top of it, they’re no longer putting tension on their neck, and their neck is just being bent, I can’t see that I should do something different than that.”

“With that same situation with the arm going limp with that type of a choke on someone, I would think the arm should be doing something else. At this time, I don’t think that I should do something different.

“That is the tough part about [our job]. You’re evaluating a situation, you’re evaluating a threat to the person, if there’s a threat coming, how well can they deal with it. There’s a lot of stuff going on there.

“Our athletes are not stupid people. A lot of them could be doing a lot of things with their life, and they’ve chosen this path and they take time from their family, they take time away from other careers where they could be progressing. All to meet their dreams and hopes, and I need to balance that with their safety.”

You can watch Dean as he explained his thoughts in full below.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena


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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]