Referee Herb Dean elaborated on his decision to call Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart a no-contest.
At UFC Vegas 21, there was another controversial call regarding an illegal knee. Darren Stewart and Eryk Anders opened up the main card, and the fight only lasted one round. Anders had the advantage late in the round as he had Stewart up by the cage. Stewart took a knee and Anders landed a knee to the head. Dean called the illegal move unintentional, declaring the fight a no-contest. That result has been met with criticism and confusion.
A week before that card at UFC 259, Petr Yan defended the UFC bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling. Yan hit an illegal knee to a downed Sterling, and the latter won via disqualification. An intentional strike, Dean called it as he saw it. UFC executive Marc Ratner spoke with MMA Junkie regarding what was going through Dean’s mind at the time when comparing the two fights.
Ratner said that Dean felt that Stewart baited Anders into throwing the knee. Dean also thought the knee was accidental.
“What we start with is the referee’s judgment. That’s the most important thing. He’s going to determine, in his mind, whether it was intentional or accidental,” Ratner said (h/t BJPenn). “It certainly changes the way the fight is scored or the outcome. In the Yan fight, Mark Smith was the referee, and he felt that the knee was intentional. And therefore, because Sterling couldn’t go forward, that became a disqualification."
“The difference from last Saturday’s fight was Herb Dean felt that maybe (Anders), who landed the knee, (and Stewart), who was putting his hand up and down, kind of baited him into that knee. He felt it was an accident. Therefore it became a No Contest or a ‘No Decision.’ If it would’ve (gone) two rounds full, we would’ve gone to the scorecards.”
The fight was closely contested at the beginning before the knee. Following Yan’s knee strike, Sterling has been met with criticism regarding how he won the UFC bantamweight title. Yan has not been as remorseful as Anders has been; Anders has since apologized multiple times to Stewart.
It is known if a rematch is on the table between Anders and Stewart.