ABU DHABI -- In a rare move, UFC removed a referee from its UFC 267 event Saturday, immediately following his performance in a preliminary welterweight bout.
The promotion pulled referee Vyacheslav Kiselev from the event after he declined to stop the welterweight bout between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Benoit Saint-Denis. Zaleski dos Santos, of Brazil, hurt Saint-Denis with right hands in the second round and followed up with a long series of unanswered punches and knees.
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
At one point, Saint-Denis retreated to the fence and did nothing but cover up. UFC commentators and even fans in attendance began to call for the fight to be stopped. Kiselev did not intervene, however, and Saint-Denis somehow managed to keep fighting and even made it to the end of the bout. He lost via unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the bout 29-26 in favor of Zaleski dos Santos.
There is a history of UFC removing officials for incompetence in the middle of an event. UFC president Dana White famously removed a judge from a UFC Fight Night event in 2014 in Macau, China, after the judge turned in two odd scorecards. UFC later said White broke protocol in that incident, as that move has to come from internal regulators.