“Big” John McCarthy has detailed what his initial reaction was to the controversial UFC 267 official.
Vyacheslav Kiselev served as a referee for a preliminary bout between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Benoît St. Denis. Kiselev’s officiating left color commentators Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder, both former fighters, infuriated. St. Denis was battered throughout the fight but Kiselev didn’t feel the need to stop the fight at any point.
On top of that, when St. Denis suffered an eye poke and admitted he couldn’t see, Kiselev didn’t even bring in a doctor and let the fight continue. The cherry on top was when Zaleski had a point taken away after his first low blow offense, so there was no warning to be had. Ultimately, Zaleski won the fight via unanimous decision and Kiselev was barred from officiating for the rest of the night.
John McCarthy Thinks Referee Was In Over His Head
“Big” John McCarthy, one of the most highly-regarded combat sports referees of all time, had already taken to his podcast to put Kiselev on blast. Speaking to Jimmy Smith on SiriusXM Radio, McCarthy revealed that he lost his cool when he watched the fight live.
“I was going nuts [laughs]. I’m just being honest. I was standing up in front of my TV, screaming at my TV. It’s exactly like you said. Look, if he had just let the fight go on it’s wrong but it’s understandable and it’s understandable based upon, hey there’s pressure there, he’s trying to let the fight play out. He’s looking at it thinking he’s doing a good job of letting this guy continue on even though he doesn’t realize you’re ruining this guy’s career. The loss is not gonna ruin his career, the beatdown and the damage will. That was one element.
“Then just like you said, the eye poke, but the way he handled it was so horrendous and so wrong for the fighter and the fighter that had been beat down that you look and you went, ‘Come on, you gotta 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 [laughs]. You just looked at everything he was doing. He was lost, he was in over his head and everyone thinks it’s easy. It’s no different than everyone thinks it’s easy to do what you do, Jimmy. It’s not. It takes time to figure out how to get these things and do ’em right and be good at ’em so you just flow with how you’re doing it, and at that moment he wasn’t ready for that type of fight.”
Officiating can sometimes be a thankless job but the lives of the fighters are very much in the hands of referees. While there can be pressure to let a fight play out, the number one job of officials is to look after the safety of the fighters.
This is clearly something Vyacheslav Kiselev failed to do.
🔊 "I was going nuts. I was standing up…screaming at my TV."@JohnMcCarthyMMA shares his reaction to the dreadful performance of the referee for Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs Benoit Saint-Denis at #UFC267 🤦🏼♂️
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) November 3, 2021