‘That guy could have been killed’: Ref is axed from UFC 267 during event after merciless failure to stop savage beating (VIDEO)

A referee has been sensationally pulled from UFC 267 during the event in Abu Dhabi after condemning a fighter to a savage beating, shocking fans by failing to step in and end the bloodied loser's gruesome ordeal.

Former light heavyweight fighter Vyacheslav Kiselev oversaw a brutal beating for newcomer Benoit Saint-Denis, who somehow endured a shuddering level of punishment during the second round without fully succumbing to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos's flurry of strikes and ground shots.

Dos Santos appealed to the seemingly merciless referee in between subjecting his opponent to a hammering that included 94 significant strikes in that second round, and commentators were baffled when Kiselev only temporarily stopped the fight after Saint-Denis took an accidental eye poke in the final round.

That left the rookie unable to see out of his left eye. Despite signaling his predicament to Kiselev in a fight he was almost certain not to win, the official allowed the troubling punishment to continue.

The Russian was at the center of more wrath after he compounded his dismal performance by docking Dos Santos a point for his first low blow of the fight.

"Wow," boggled one reporter, warning that Dos Santos is "one of the toughest humans imaginable."

"That fight should have 10,000% 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."

Another fumed: "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."

That critic's wish was answered when broadcast partners ESPN revealed that Kiselev had been removed from his later duties on the bill on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

As well as his assignment in the preliminaries, Kiselev had been scheduled to take charge of Magomed Ankalaev's meeting with Volkan Oezdemir in the main card opener.

He will now not be involved after one of the worst refereeing performances many fans had seen in MMA.

"That guy could have been killed if Dos Santos had anything left," warned one viewer.

"You hate to see a guy stumble around and then get hit with 10 or 15 more shots."

Dos Santos was diplomatic but unequivocal when he was asked about the scandal in the aftermath of his unanimous decision win.

"It was pretty clear that the referee should have stopped it," the Brazilian welterweight replied. "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."

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