Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
If Jorge Masvidal had a choice, Herb Dean would likely not be the referee in any more of his fights moving forward.
Masvidal faced former friend and teammate Colby Covington in a main event grudge match at UFC 272 this past Saturday night where Covington dominated en route to a unanimous decision. Things got contentious in the first round after Covington looked to land an accidental eye poke on Masvidal, who then brought it to Dean’s attention in the moment.
Dean allowed the fight to continue, and Covington swarmed on Masvidal, landing a takedown and a clear 10-9 round. “Gamebred” isn’t going to blame Dean’s silence as a reason he lost the fight, but it would certainly lead to a conversation if he did.
“The eye poke was pretty bad,” Masvidal told reporters at the UFC 272 post-fight press conference. “The only thing that’s hurting right now is the f****** eye. My eye is still throbbing right now.
“I’ve had a couple of mishaps [with] Herb Dean, I just don’t get why he didn’t fix the action. [He] threw a punch, missed, and immediately jabbed me in the f****** eyeball.
“I’m not going to take anything from [Covington] winning the fight because that was just one sequence, but it would’ve been cool if he could’ve stopped it there and I could’ve gotten my breathing to restart since Colby poked the s*** out of my eye. Me and Herb Dean don’t have a clean record as it is — we’ve had a couple of mishaps in the past. He’s not my cup of tea when it comes to refereeing.”
In 2019, Masvidal had one of the most impactful years in UFC history, picking up stoppage wins over Darren Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz. Since then, the 37-year-old has not been able to get his hand raised, including a one-sided decision loss to champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251, and a stunning knockout loss to Usman this past April at UFC 261.
Again, Masvidal wants to make it clear that he’s not using Dean missing the eye poke as an excuse, although the longtime referee did issue a stern warning to Covington prior to the second round after using instant replay. But in a sport where momentum can play such a factor, the first five minutes certainly sent a lot of it to the Covington side.
“That position wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t poked me in the eye,” Masvidal said. “It’s whatever, it’s Herb Dean stuff. Everybody here, if you’ve seen fighting, you’ve seen Herb Dean have numerous hiccups.”