Herb Dean Didn’t Smell Alcohol on Keith Peterson: ‘This is a Very Serious Job We Do’

By: Tristen Critchfield
May 13, 2020

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In light of the serious accusations made by Dominick Cruz against Keith Peterson, Herb Dean has stepped in to defend his fellow referee.

In two separate interviews, Cruz has has claimed that he smelled alcohol on Peterson, who officiated the UFC 249 co-main event between the Alliance MMA product and Henry Cejudo. Cruz was upset with the stoppage, which came at the 4:58 mark of the second round as the veteran bantamweight appeared to be working his way to his feet.

“I’ve never had a ref that I felt so shaky about leading into the fight, that couldn’t make eye contact, that smelled the way he smelled,” Cruz said. “Jeremy Stephens told me that he had to carry that dude [Peterson] back up to his room before. This is real stuff that we’re talking about. The fights are going on and these guys are getting hammered the night before and they’re not clear and they’re coming in hung over. You’re a weak link in my three-year preparation for this, and I don’t appreciate that.”

Cruz also praised Dean for his work in the UFC 249 headliner between Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson and lamented that the veteran official was not the third man in the Octagon for his bout, as well. Dean, however, disputed Cruz’s claim that Peterson smelled like alcohol.

“I didn’t smell alcohol on Keith Peterson,” Dean said in an interview with interview with The Schmo. “Keith Peterson was around us all day, and I’ll tell you this: If any of us suspect that someone’s been drinking the day of the fight, there’s no way any official is gonna let that pass. We’re gonna call someone out. This is a very serious job we do.”

Dean also defended Peterson’s call on the stoppage, acknowledging that it was a difficult call to make in the heat of the moment.

“I would just say it’s a very tough situation,” Dean said. “Because Dominick got hurt and when someone gets hurt, as a referee, your job is to manage the threat that’s coming after them while they’re trying to recover and get their facilities about them and be able to do the right things.

“And it was quite a while, and there were a lot of shots coming while he was trying to get it together. Keith Peterson made a decision based on what he saw, and I think it fits within the standards of a stoppage. The situation changed in that split second, and that’s a bad situation for anyone. So is that the situation we want? Of course not. But looking at it, can I see anything he did wrong that I would have done different? I don’t think so.”

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