Referee Vyacheslav Kiselev was lambasted on social media after allowing Saint-Denis to take an inordinate amount of punishment in his preliminary welterweight bout against Zaleski on Saturday. Zaleski landed numerous unanswered shots in the second round and though Saint-Denis exhibited extraordinary toughness, commentators Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier, and Paul Felder were all heard on the broadcast shouting for the bout to be stopped.
On Twitter, fighters, officials, and fans all questioned Kiselev’s competency, including veteran referee John McCarthy who called it, “the worst job of officiating at an UFC event ever.” Kiselev also came under fire for an incident later in the fight when Saint-Denis appeared to be complaining that he could not see after receiving an eye poke and the referee did not call for the ringside physician to examine him.
Before the next fight, it was announced on the broadcast that Kiselev would be relieved of his duties for the remainder of the night. He was to officiate one more fight.
See how the pros reacted to the controversial fight below:
Honestly the worst performance I have seen from a referee in my life. Honestly a hard job but man unreal. Makes you respect the good ones like @JasonHerzogMMA @JohnMcCarthyMMA @HerbDeanMMA and many more. I hated watching that I hope Benoit is heading to hospital right now !— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 30, 2021
The best #mma referees give you nothing to talk about.— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) October 30, 2021
The most important role of an MMA referee is to protect the fighters. This referee is doing a terrible job of that, in more ways than one. #UFC267— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) October 30, 2021
This ref chose violence today! What else does he need to see to stop this?? #UFC267— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 30, 2021
Besides this this ref being trash as hell. When are we going to have the conversation about the negative stigma MMA has about throwing in the towel? I say live to fight another day. This man's coaches don't care for his life. #ufc267— Randy Brown (@TouchNgo_) October 30, 2021
this referee needs to be fired.— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) October 30, 2021
Can the fire a ref mid fight card? That dude is awful— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) October 30, 2021
That fight is over and I'm still mad at that ref #UFC267— Terrance McKinney (@twrecks155) October 30, 2021
Glad Sahn Deni (Saint Denis) didn’t die in this fight. The referee needs to be banned from any octagon/ring/or mat. He’s a danger to athletes. Serious danger.— Siyar Bahadurzada (@Siyarized) October 30, 2021
This is the last time will ever see this ref #ufc267— Julian marquez (@JMarquezMMA) October 30, 2021
What is going on right now— John Gooden (@JohnGoodenUK) October 30, 2021
Watch more footage of the fight here: