Referee Herb Dean Clarifies Anthony Pettis’ Armbar Submission

Referee Herb Dean has shed some light on Anthony Pettis’ armbar submission victory over Benson Henderson at UFC 164 Saturday night.

When Pettis caught Henderson in an armbar toward the end of the first round, there was a bit of confusion as to whether Bendo verbally or physically tapped out.

At the end of the fight, Pettis said, “I felt his arm pop and he said ‘tap, tap, tap,'” and according to Dean, Henderson verbally tapped out. He called a stop to the fight at 4:31 in the first round, declaring Pettis the winner by submission to claim the UFC lightweight championship.

“I saw [Pettis] lock the armbar in and [Henderson] was trying to defend it. He was reaching across, and he went belly down. I was moving and trying to get into a better position and at that time, that’s when the tap came,” Dean told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour Monday.

“And [Pettis] got up and immediately started celebrating,” Dean added. “I guess where people weren’t knowing exactly what happened is usually they’re used to seeing me grab the guy and then wave it off. But he got up so quick that I didn’t get a chance to do that.”

Dean said that it’s better for fighters to wait for him to intervene because it avoids any confusion or controversy.

“I think people should always wait for me to touch them. Just to be on the safe side I wouldn’t advise that fighter not to get up unless the referee has touched them,” he said.

“It all worked out but we have situations where guys stop fighting and the referee has not stopped the fight,” Dean added. “Then they have to start fighting again. We definitely don’t want situations like that, especially in championship fights.”

A look at the replay shows that there was no way Benson Henderson could have physically tapped out. Anthony Pettis had him locked in tightly.

“The armbar was on tight, the arm was going,” Herb Dean said. “I knew the tap was coming, and the armbar was definitely done.”