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Video: Referee Keith Peterson nearly catches accidental punch as fighter flails in submission at CFFC 97

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Referee Keith Peterson watches the action between James Lyons and Beau Samaniego (blue gloves) at CFFC 97 in Philadelphia on Saturday
@UFCFightPass, Twitter

Keith Peterson is used to taking some heat as a veteran referee of many high-profile UFC bouts, but he nearly caught an actual live round on Saturday.

Serving as the third man in the cage for a bout between featherweights James Lyons and Beau Samaniego at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 97 in Philadelphia, Peterson had to get in close to observe the ending sequence, which saw Lyons clamp on a tight rear-naked choke. A visibly fading Samaniego didn’t tap, instead fighting the submission until he started to pass out. As he did so, his left hand shot out and clipped Peterson right across the top of his head.

Peterson—often referred to as “The No-Nonsense Keith Peterson”—had to be on his toes from the opening bell as Lyons came out throwing high kicks before changing levels to attack Samaniego with his wrestling. Lyons methodically took Samaniego’s back before going for the submission.

Despite the accidental shot, Peterson was unshaken, and he waved the bout off with an official stoppage time of 2:01 of round one. Lyons improved to 2-0 as a pro with the win.

Afterwards, CFFC commentator CM Punk joked about Peterson’s toughness.

“Let’s give it up for the chin of Keith Peterson,” Punk said. “That would have knocked out any other referee in MMA.”