Herb Dean is an American Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) referee, former fighter, and an actor. He was born on 30 September 1970 in Pasadena, California USA, and is also known under the stage names of “The Predator” and “The Gold Standard”.

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Early Life

Education and Family

There’s not much information about Herb’s early education, childhood or family. However, it’s known that he started practicing martial arts when he was nine years old, and trained in various disciplines in his teens. Through his extensive training, he became a Judo fighter and second Dan Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu.



He continued practicing martial arts into his adulthood – in 1993 as UFC 1 was in its initial phase, he trained with Frank Trejo.

At the time, MMA was an unknown sport and it was uncertain if there would be a UFC 2.

However, in 1996 Herb Dean met Larry Landless and he started his MMA training at Submission Factory. He said ‘(I) found what I had been searching for, cohesive and complete MMA training’.


Herb Dean made his debut as an MMA fighter in 2001 in the heavyweight (265lb) division. His career as a Professional MMA fighter lasted six years, in which he fought in five matches. His first match event was against Randy Halmot in Colusa, California, entitled “Gladiator Challenge 6” and was on 9 September 2001. He won the match by submission via front choke in 0:43 seconds of round one.

Herb’s second match as a professional MMA was on 18 January 2003 in Arizona.

Herb lost this event by submission via punches in 0:52 seconds to Joe Riggs in the event “Rage in the Cage 43: The Match”. More than one year later on 6 August 2004, the event “KOTC 39: Hitmaster” was celebrated in San Jacinto, California. Herb won the match against Timothy Mendoza, by TKO via knee and punches in 3:31 minutes in the second rounds.

Herb’s fourth event “Spirit MC 9” was two months later on 8 October 2006, in South Korea. Herb lost this match against Jung Gyu Choi in two rounds, by a submission in 3:51 minutes.

His fifth and last match was the event “Cage Rage 22” in London, England on 14 July 2007. His opponent Dave Legeno won the match by TKO via an eye injury. The fight lasted 5:00 minutes and one round.

He made his retirement official in 2007.


Herb Dean is best known for his work as a MMA referee, which he started in 2004 even before his retirement as a fighter. He has refereed 3,000 games in total, several of them famous and legendary matches.

One of the most legendary matches he refereed was Tim Sylvia vs. Frank Mir on 19 June 2004, for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Dean stopped the fight when at 0:50 of the first round, claiming that Sylvia’s forearm broke as a result of an armbar. Dean shouted ‘Stop, stop, stop! The fight is over!’ but Sylvia argued with him, claiming that he was fine, and denying that his arm was broken.

‘I heard it snap. I saw it go.’ Dean said to Sylvia. Later Dean’s claims were corroborated by the physician Dr. Margaret Goodman, although Sylvia kept denying it.

The match finished and later Sylvia went through an X-Ray assessment that showed that his arm was indeed broken, and required surgery.

Tim Sylvia was interviewed later and admitted that he knew that his arm was broken, but he didn’t want to stop the fight.  He also said that Dean saved his career by stopping the fight when he did.

Another one of Dean’s more memorable fights as a referee was on 8 July 2006, in the second match between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock. Dean stopped the fight at 1:18 of the first round, giving the victory to Ortiz. Shamrock protested against Dean’s decision, but when Ortiz and Shamrock encountered for the third time, Ortiz won again.

Herb Dean

In 2007, Dean refereed the match of Mirko Cro vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, in which he stood up from the guard position. Gonzaga ended up winning the match after he managed to put Mirko against the cage, knocking him out with a kick to the head. Dean prevented Mirko of receiving a serious injury when he freed his foot from underneath him, which was pinned and rotated backwards.


Dana White, who is the UFC President, has said that Dean ‘is one of the best referees’. He also said that he never questions Herb and trusts his decisions after his work as a referee between Sylvia and Mir in 2004. However, more recently he said that Herb ‘made a mistake’ in reference to his stoppage work in the fight between Renan Barao and Urijah Faber.

Besides that controversy, Dean was also criticized by his stoppages in other fights. In reference to the fight between Khalid Murtazaliev vs. CB Dollaway, he was told by MMA fans on Twitter that his stoppage was ‘disgusting’.


Herb Dean has appeared in several movies. He made his debut as an actor in the role of referee in the 2008 video “Fatal Femmes Fighting: Asian Invasion”, directed by Michael Kolko starring Sofia Bagherdai, A.J. Benza and Bruce Buffer.

Next he appeared as himself in the 2012 movie “Here Comes The Boom”, starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek. The movies centers on the story of the former wrestler and current biology teacher, Scott Voss – when the school he works at is faced with economic problems, he becomes an MMA fighter to raise funds to prevent the elimination of extra-curricular activities.

In 2017 Herb again appeared as a referee in the movie “A Violent Man” starring Thomas Q. Jones. The story centers on the life of a mixed martial artist, who is faced with some life-endangering problems.

Herb’s most recent movie is the South Korean “Saja”, released in 2019. The movie is about Yong-hu Park, a Christian raised young man who lost his faith after his father’s death. Growing up, Yong-hu surrounded himself with money and fame after becoming a MMA fighter. However, his perfect life becomes troubled when strange marks appear on his hands. The movie is mystery and horror-themed, and Herb appears in the role of referee.

MMA Official Certification Courses

Herb Dean has stepped-up a higher level in his professional career when he started to teach his own Certification Course as a MMA Official Referee. The course has two levels: the first consists on the essentials of how to be an MMA Official Referee, in which he teaches the basics, scoring criteria and guidelines.

The second level of the course teaches aspects such as logistics and all aspects of being an MMA referee, like duties and guidelines for safety.

Personal Life

There’s not much information about Herb Dean’s personal life. However, it’s known that he’s married and has two daughters and a son. He has said ‘My kids are the highlight of my time when I’m at home, we enjoy training and playing music together’.

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He has also expressed that one of his hobbies is re-building cars.

Net Worth

Reportedly, an MMA referee receives an average pay of $400 per fight, and higher quantities depending on how massive the fight is. Along this, Herb has appeared in several movies and has started teaching a MMA Official Certification Course. Due to this, Herb Dean’s net worth is estimated at 1.5 million, as a result of his extensive jobs experience.


Herb Dean is Afro-American, 6ft 1in (1.85m) tall and weighs 225lbs (102kgs).

Interesting Facts

Dean won the Fighters Only Magazine’s award “World MMA” as the Referee of the Year for four years consecutively, from 2010 to 2014. In 2015 though, he was beaten by “Big” John McCarthy for the award.

Dean has worked with: “The Ultimate Fighting Championship” (UFC), “King of the Cage” KOTC, “Gladiator Challenge International Fight League” (IFL) and other prestigious MMA organizations.

When asked about the reason he referees, he answered: ‘I love this sport! Plain and simple. I think of being a referee as similar to being a bass player in a band. The bass player provides a consistent rhythm and sets the groove so that the other instruments can shine’.

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