clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Morning Report: ‘Big’ John McCarthy on Vyacheslav Kiselev, the referee removed from duty at UFC 267: ‘He was in over his head’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This past weekend, two new champions were crowned for the UFC and two of the UFC’s most-hyped contenders picked up emphatic first-round submissions, however, one of the most talked about stories of the weekend isn’t Glove Teixeira becoming the oldest first-time UFC champion in history or the arrival of Khamzat Chimaev. Instead, one of the lingering stories of UFC 267 is the lamentable refereeing of Vyacheslav Kiselev during an undercard bout between Benoit Saint-Denis and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

In the second round of the welterweight contest, Saint-Denis was badly hurt by dos Santos who then spent the better part of three minutes, dos Santos battered Saint-Denis with strikes, looking for the stoppage. So bad was the beating that the UFC commentary team of Daniel Cormier, Paul Felder, and Jon Anik all called for the bout to be stopped and even dos Santos paused his onslaught briefly to look Kiselev incredulously. Ultimately, Kiselev allowed the bout to continue, and Saint-Denis survived to the third round where things improved for Saint-Denis. But arguably, they got even worse for Kiselev, who paused the bout for an eye poke to Saint-Denis and then restarted the fight despite Saint-Denis telling him he could not see; he also deducted a point from dos Santos for an inadvertent low blow, dos Santos’ first offense. It was such a poor showing from Kiselev that after the fight, he was removed from his duties later on in the evening where he was set to officiate the light heavyweight contest between Magomed Ankalaev and Volkan Oezdemir.

In the aftermath, much has been made of Kiselev’s performance with dos Santos saying after the fight that Kiselev was “putting people in danger” and the MMA community nearly unanimous in their belief that Kiselev did a terrible job. And the man who literally helped write the book on how to ref is in agreement.

“I was going nuts. I was standing up in front of my TV, screaming,” Bellator commentator and former referee “Big” John McCarthy said on Unlocking the Cage with Jimmy Smith. “Look, if he had just let the fight go on, it’s wrong but it’s understandable and it’s understandable based upon there’s pressure there, he’s trying to let the fight play out and he’s looking at it thinking he’s doing a good job of letting this guy continue on even though he doesn’t realize he’s ruining this guy’s career. The loss is not going to ruin his career, the beat down and the damage will.

“So that was one element and then the eye poke. The way he handled it was so horrendous and so wrong for the fighter, and the fighter that had been beat down. So you’re looking and you go, ‘Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me!’ Then you take a look at the knee, the knee did not hit the groin. Maybe the shin did, and okay that’s fine, but to take a point for it? No, the knee was placed properly and so you just looked at everything he was doing, he was lost, he was in over his head. Everyone thinks it’s easy. It’s not. It takes time to figure out how to get these things and do them right and be good at them so you just flow with how you’re doing it and at that moment, he wasn’t ready for that type of fight.”

Kiselev isn’t the only person that drew McCarthy’s ire though. Shortly after the bout, Saint-Denis’ coach, Daniel Woirin said that he didn’t even consider throwing in the towel to protect his fighter, a position he reiterated even after facing backlash for it, and for McCarthy, that is the same kind of dereliction of duty that Kiselev showed, and sadly, one that is pervasive among many MMA coaches.

“It’s the hardest call to make based upon your love for the guy that’s in that cage,” McCarthy said. “You’re supposed to love that guy, you’re supposed to know more about him than anybody and you know when they are not doing what they need to do to win the fight. You know when they’re not going to win the fight. The biggest thing is, people are afraid to do it because they’re afraid of the fighter saying, ‘You didn’t believe in me’ or they’re afraid of losing their job. But when a guy says, ‘I didn’t even think about it,’ well he also should have said something better than, ‘You’re getting hit too much.’ Really? You didn’t think his fighter knew that at the time?

“That’s why I love the Trevor Wittman’s the John Hackleman’s, they take care of their fighters. They will throw in the towel, they will stop the fight because they know their fighter and they know, ‘Hey, this is it. They’ve given everything they can give, they can’t give anymore, it’s time to get them out.’”

According to coach, the French fighter suffered no serious injuries as a result of the fight. Saint-Denis left the hospital on Monday with the intention to return to France this week where he will take some time off before returning at 155 pounds.


Results. Maheshate first Chinese DWCS winner, 1 other contract awarded last night.

Champ. Aljamain Sterling targets early 2022 title unifier, says ‘b*tchass’ T.J. Dillashaw ‘can wait’.

Opportunities. Michael Chandler: Justin Gaethje received same amount of ‘Dana White privilege’ after his UFC arrival and we both ‘earned it’.

Promotion. Dana White: If Amanda Nunes fought Kayla Harrison’s opponents, it ‘might be the first death in MMA’.

Predictable. Dana White wants to make Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz happen: ‘100 percent’.


Contender Series announcements.


Top MSG moments for the UFC.

Michael Chandler interview.

Now Kamaru Usman is talking about boxing.


Rankings Show. Debating Khamzat Chimaev, Petr Yan, and Corey Anderson.

Jack Slack. Breaking down the key fights from UFC 267.


Benoit Saint-Denis.

New fight poster drop.


Cris Cyborg on things Dana White says.


Why practice is so important.

A man must have a code.


Casey O’Neill (8-0) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (25-9); UFC 271, Feb. 12


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



Who wins this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Justin Gaethje
    (613 votes)
  • 19%
    Michael Chandler
    (149 votes)
762 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting