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Referee removed from UFC 267 duties, fighters react to horrible, dangerous officiating

The Elizeu Zaleski vs. Benoit St. Denis fight did not need to go the distance. Vyacheslav Kiselev disagreed.

On the UFC 267 prelims, Brazilian welterweight Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos defeated French newcomer Benoit St. Denis by unanimous decision. There is pretty much no justification for this fight to have gone the full 15 minutes.

St. Denis was undoubtedly tough but he was too tough for his own good. Zaleski dos Santos had him hurt numerous times and did everything but knock him down in round two. He was out on his feet and yet neither referee Vyacheslav Kiselev nor St. Denis’ corner saw a reason to stop the fight. St. Denis could hardly stand and he was absorbing unbelievable levels of head trauma, and the fight ridiculously continued. Even with St. Denis tagging Zaleski late in the round and threatened a takedown, this should’ve been stopped.

To add to Kiselev’s incompetence, he didn’t summon the doctor when St. Denis was poked in the eye in the third round and St. Denis said that he couldn’t see. That’s pretty standard practice. To cap it off, Zaleski lost a point for a groin strike to end the fight but Zaleski had a few points to spare given he was up 20-16 through two rounds.

An all-time awful, negligent refereeing performance in UFC history, and of course Kiselev’s night had to be done given what transpired. Prior to the start of the next fight between Albert Duraev and Roman Kapylov, UFC commentator Jon Anik confirmed that Kiselev was removed from the event. His next assignment would’ve been Volkan Oezdemir vs. Magomed Ankalaev on the main card. It’s a damn good thing that happened.

Here’s how fighters and also retired referee Big John McCarthy reacted to that shambolic display.

The UFC usually acts as its own commission overseas, so this was their appointment and subsequent removal. I think there’s a strong case to be made that Vyacheslav Kiselev should never be allowed to step foot in an Octagon again. And really after a performance like that, it’s even more dangerous for him to be reffing lower-level regional shows fights. That’s the type of display that should get you barred from the sport or sent for re-training.