Ben Askren made his UFC debut at UFC 235, defeating former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler by first round submission.
Lawler claimed he wasn’t unconscious nor did he tap while in the bulldog choke from Askren, but fight official Herb Dean defends the controversial stoppage.
“When I see some chokes, a rear-naked choke, especially with the guy on the back face up, I take a sigh of relief,” he said on The Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show (via Milan Ordonez of Bloody Elbow). “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. 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.”
A defeated Lawler has sought a rematch against Askren, but Askren has turned the opportunity down.
Dean also knows that he has to balance the fighters dreams and hopes with fighter safety whenever officiating a bout.
“That is the tough part about (our job),” Dean said. “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.”