Josh Gross
Monday May 18th, 2009

Veteran mixed martial arts referee Herb Dean spoke with on Monday regarding the controversial ending in Friday's Strikeforce main event between Billy Evangelista and Mike Aina.

After viewing footage of the finish, Dean said he plans on offering a recommendation to the California State Athletic Commission that the result should be changed from a disqualification loss for Evangelista to a technical knockout victory. Take me through what you saw and the angle you had in the cage on Friday. Did you feel you were in the proper position to make the call?

Herb Dean: I felt I was in a good position. As I remember my angle, I believe Aina was against the fence, so I was at a position to the side of them. You try as often as you can to form a triangle so that you're at one point and the fighters are at the other two. Of course, it's not a perfect world, but that's what you strive for. The worst possible position would be with you and the fighters all being in a line.

I saw Evangelista launch a knee towards the head. I did see the arm was up, but I saw it impact in that area. It was a very fast knee. And I did see it hit the shoulder, but at that time I believed it hit the triceps as well as the head, which is often the case. One fighter reacted as if he'd been hit in the head. The other fighter reacted as if he hit him in the head with a fair blow that he waited for him to rise from being grounded so that the knee would legal. His intention was to knee him in the head. There was some discussion about intent versus actually fulfilling the intent. If he intended to hit his head but actually hit his arm, that's not a foul, correct?

Dean: It is not a foul. After seeing the replay, do you feel the end was a mistake on your part and the fight should have been awarded to Evangelista?

Dean: First of all, I don't think Aina was playing it up. I don't think he was faking. It was a hard knee. It landed on the triceps and his head received some impact from it. I don't think he knew that he hadn't been hit in the head. So then at that point, he felt it was an illegal blow and signaled to me. I stopped the action and he was unable to continue. I gave him a few moments to get up. He didn't. And I called in the doctor. The doctor told me that Aina could not continue because he believed he might have a broken jaw. That's why the fight was stopped. Also, before the doctor made the decision, Aina would not say he wanted to fight. I asked him more than once, "Can you continue to fight?" So I believed he was OK with stopping. I don't think he felt he could continue. One of the officials I spoke with said mistakes happen. It's an imperfect science. Do you chalk this up to that, or are the things you could have done or should have done? And are there things that could prevent this in the future?

Dean: I think I was in a good position. These things do happen. I don't believe I could have seen it any better. It's such a split-second impact. I don't know what other people are capable of doing, but I don't think anyone is capable of seeing that without a slow-motion replay and freeze frame. No one at the time mentioned it was on the arm until after seeing the replay. As far as me doing my job, I think I did it well. But the ability to use instant replay, I think would have been helpful. Do you feel like you made a mistake?

Dean: I think I did my job as good as I could have done it. I can't think of another way, another place I would have rather been. It was a very fast knee. The bottom line is these things are quicker than the eye. And I made the best possible decision I feel I could have made. Seeing the replay, it obviously hit the arm that was in the way. If replay was available, as an official, would that be something you would want?

Dean: Yes, for certain situations. And I think this one is a very good example of that. The fight is stopped and the fighter is unable to continue. So by me taking timeout to look at the replay, I'm not going to affect anyone's time. Or the fight continuing and me going back to look at the replay, I won't affect anyone's strategy by changing the call. What are the possibilities for implementing instant replay in combat sports? Where do you think replay stands as a viable option right now?

Dean: I think replay is going to happen. There are so many things that can happen and so many situations where it would not be something you'd want to use, but for a situation like Friday night I think replay is going to be an option for us. I believe that there are already changes or proposals to change it in the regulations in some states. And I believe New Jersey has already put in that change. I know it's being proposed.

GROSS: Sho MMA marred by controversy

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.