Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission since 1996, has announced via email that he will be stepping down from his position on January 27. No word yet on his successor, although according to the commission, a search for a suitable replacement is underway.

As the man who presided over one of the most visible combat sports jurisdictions in the world, in a time when MMA grew to the grand proportions it enjoys today, Kizer often drew the ire of fans, fighters and promoters alike for the perceived shortcomings of the judges and referees employed in the state. But fighter safety protocols, which should be the raison d’etre of any athletic commission, were implemented and adhered to, and the resulting list of combat sports casualties during Kizer’s tenure was thankfully low – the sure sign of a job well done.

Kizer’s stated plans are to go back to practicing law.

His sudden departure does leave a big question mark hanging over the Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort bout, which was rumored to be in discussions for late spring/early summer in Las Vegas. As Belfort is a known TRT user, and has suspensions on his record for use of banned substances, it was assumed that the Kizer’s NSAC would at least be subjecting Belfort to additional scrutiny before licensing and granting him a testosterone use exemption. But will that be the case with new executive director?