Herb Dean is a multi-millionaire American mixed martial arts referee and former fighter. If you’re looking for the best MMA refs, look no further than him. Herb Dean has also won the World MMA Referee of the Year Award from Fighters Only Magazine four times in a row from 2010 to 2014, as well as in 2019 and 2020.
Beginnings in Early Life and a Career
Herb Dean was born in Pasadena, California, in 1970, and grew up there. Throughout his adolescence, he trained in various styles of martial arts, starting at the age of nine. Dean was a student of Frank Trejo’s in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. With Trejo, he continued to train and eventually added jiu-jitsu and judo to his repertoire. A year or two later, Dean was introduced to MMA training at Los Angeles’s Submission Factory by fighter Larry Landless, with whom he became friends.
Famous UFC fights
Throughout his career, Herb Dean has officiated several high-profile fights. Among them was the fight between Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir at UFC 48 in the summer of 2004. Despite Dean’s best efforts, Sylvia argued with him and insisted that the fight should continue. Dr. Margaret Goodman, the ringside doctor, was able to stop the match at some point. The rematch between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock at UFC 61 was also noteworthy. When Ortiz delivered numerous unanswered elbows to Shamrock’s head, Dean stepped in to stop the bout once more. Shamrock had to be escorted from the Octagon after Dean awarded Ortiz a TKO victory.
Herb Dean was the referee for Gabriel Gonzaga’s fight with Mirko Filipovi at UFC 70 in 2007. Gonzaga knocked down Filipovi with a kick to the head after Herb Dean stood it up from the guard’s stance. Filipovi’s right foot was caught beneath his torso and had to be moved 180 degrees backward following the impact. Dean was able to release him from the pinned position and avert more harm.
After UFC 109, UFC president Herb Dean White praised Dean for his excellent eye and judgment, calling him the finest referee in the industry. The list of notable fighters Herb Dean has referred to includes Renzo Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture, and George St. Pierre, to name just a few.
Despite his success and widespread acclaim, Herb Dean still finds himself embroiled in several fight-related debates. His stoppage of the UFC bantamweight title fight between Urijah Faber and Renan Baro at UFC 169 was widely criticized. C.B. Dollaway and Khalid Murtazaliev’s fight was stopped by Dean at UFC Fight Night: Hunt versus Oleinik in 2018. Dana White criticized Dean for awarding a victory to Ben Askren, who had done a bulldog choke against Robbie Lawler, in March of 2019.
Career as a MMA fighter
Herb Dean has a professional MMA record of 2-3 as a fighter. By submission, he defeated Randy Halmot in his first professional match at Gladiator Challenge 6 in September of 2001. Joe Riggs defeated him in his following encounter in early 2003. The next year, at KOTC 39: Hitmaster, Dean defeated Timothy Mendoza via technical knockout. Jung Gyu Choi and Dave Legeno beat him in the following two encounters.
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Additionally, Dean teaches classes for anyone interested in becoming certified to officiate mixed martial arts fights. The courses include topics such as ABC Unified Rules, judging standards, and scoring criteria in the form of classroom lectures, written tests, and presentations. During the simulated judging, debate, and calibration of scoring of the event film, Dean also displays the event video.
A Career in Acting
There have been a few movies where Dean has appeared outside the ring. “Here Comes the Boom,” a 2012 comedy starring Kevin James, Henry Winkler, and Salma Hayek, had a cameo appearance by him as himself. His next appearance was in “A Violent Man,” which came out in 2017. For the second time in two years, Dean had a minor role in the South Korean action horror film “The Divine Fury,” which tells the story of a troubled young man who gains divine abilities and takes up mixed martial arts (MMA).
When it comes to awards, Dean is a six-time winner of Fighters Only Magazine’s World MMA Awards Referee of the Year award.
Life at Home
Victoria is the name of Dean’s Russian wife. The pair resides in the greater Los Angeles region.