One mixed martial arts referee has found himself in the firing line after failing to stop a bout when one of the fighters was clearly absorbing too much damage.
Vyacheslav Kiselev was subsequently axed for the remained of the UFC 267 card when he chose not to step in when Benoit Saint-Denis looked out on his feet against Elizeu dos Santos at UFC 267.
Dos Santos ended up winning the fight in Abu Dhabi by unanimous decision, but if truth be told, it should have ended long before that.
Now some of the biggest names in the sport have waded in, urging the UFC to take action - which they have.
During their brutal war, dos Santos recorded 149 significant strikes to Saint-Denis' 67 - 96 of which were blows to the head.
But to Saint-Denis' credit, he showed incredible toughness and durability as he refused to hit the deck and give up despite looking very wobbly.
But at the end of the day, sometimes the fighter needs to be saved from themselves - and that job lies with the referee.
Instead of halting the fight in its tracks and stopping Saint-Denis from taking more unnecessary damage.
With his hands down and copping blow after blow, it was clear that the fight was over, so much so that the commentators themselves were yelling out for the referee to intervene.
"Stop the fight," commentators Daniel Cormier, Jon Anik and Paul Felder shouted ringside.
"I don't know what he needs to see... this is crazy," Cormier added.
I think this might be the worst referee in the history of the UFC. Should not be officiating for the remainder of the night. Abysmal. #UFC267- Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) October 30, 2021
Jon Anik announces that Vyacheslav Kiselev has been pulled from the rest of the #UFC267 card after that Dos Santos vs. Saint Denis fight.- Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 30, 2021
Reminder - the UFC acts as its own commission so it was likely Marc Ratner making that call. #UFC267
Forget the bets, that ref just stole deserved shine from Zaleski dos Santos, as well as took years off of a debuting fighter's life. For the safety of the fighters, please don't let this man ref another fight tonight or any other night @ufc. Thank you. #UFC267- Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) October 30, 2021
They announced on the #UFC267 broadcast that referee Vyacheslav Kiselev will not be officiating again tonight. He had one assignment remaining- Alexander K Lee (@AlexanderKLee) October 30, 2021
MMA, specially @ufc which is the highest level, isn't the [email protected] experiment with referees. What just happened at #ufc267 in Abu Dhabi at Elizeu x Benoit is atrocious, dangerous and can't be allowed. Ref should protect the fighters health, not shorten their lives. Unbelievable!- Eduardo Alonso (@eduardo_alonso) October 30, 2021
But their cries fell on deaf ears as fight continued and Saint-Denis absorbed far more damage than what he should have.
After do Santos had his hand raised, it was then revealed that the UFC had decided to axe Kiselev from the remained of the card.
At the time, us fans watching from home couldn't quite believe that the fight wasn't stopped earlier.
But for those witnessing it live in the flesh, they realised just how severe the incident was.
In the aftermath of an otherwise flawless event, Cormier tweeted: "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!"
While respected MMA reporters Brett Okamoto added: "Wow. So, Elizeu Zaleski is one of the toughest humans imaginable. And that fight should have 10000 percent been stopped in the second round. Doesn't matter Zaleski managed to go the distance. With what that ref was looking at, you stop that fight every time."
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
Wow. So, Elizeu Zaleski is one of the toughest humans imaginable. And that fight should have 10000 percent been stopped in the second round. Doesn't matter Zaleski managed to go the distance. With what that ref was looking at, you stop that fight every time.- Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) October 30, 2021
As for do Santos himself, even he admitted that he "felt sorry" for his helpless opponent.
"It was pretty clear that the referee should have stopped it," the Brazilian said.
"He ended up making the fight a lot tougher than it should have been.
"I feel sorry for the guy because he ended up getting injured way more than he should have - and for myself as well, because when you're beating someone up, you're getting hurt yourself as well.
"We didn't know that he had been removed but we did talk about it with the doctors and medical staff - that he didn't do his job, he was putting people in danger."
Whether you're a mixed martial arts purist or just a casual fan, everyone surely knows that the health, wellbeing and safety of the athlete far outweighs any form of entertainment.
Saint-Denis sure is tough, but let's just hope he's alright.
Featured Image Credit: UFC
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