Michael Chiesa wasn't the only one outraged by referee Mario Yamasaki's antics at UFC Fight Night 112, as fans on social media ridiculed the long-time ref for his stoppage in the main event between Chiesa and Kevin Lee.
Yamasaki called a stop to the fight when Lee was applying a palm-to-palm rear-naked choke to Chiesa in the first round. The problem was, 'Maverick' didn't tap. Chiesa immediately stood back up and yelled at Yamasaki for stopping the fight, but the decision had already been made. Lee won the bout via first-round submission.
Despite the controversy and outrage on social media, Lee thinks Yamasaki made the right call. 'The Motown Phenom' says Chiesa's arms 'went limp' when he locked in the choke.
“(Chiesa) went limp,” Lee said backstage at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, per Steven Marrocco and John Morgan of MMA Junkie. “You can see he’s fighting the choke. I switch from palm to palm; as soon as I do, his arms go limp.”
“Mario’s a very experienced ref,” Lee said. “Mario saw it and stopped the fight. If he wouldn’t have, there was still 45 seconds left in the fight. I don’t see what the controversy is about. It wasn’t like I was going to let go.”
Chiesa, however, couldn't disagree more and will be appealing the loss to the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission (OSAC).
Lee, who is on a five-fight win streak, is open to a rematch with his disgruntled opponent but is ready to start challenging the top contenders in the lightweight division.
“I will (rematch Chiesa) just for the easy money, but it will wake me up a bit more to fight one of these big names,” he said.
The 24-year-old recently went at it with the top-ranked Tony Ferguson on a FOX Sports 1 live broadcast and is quickly becoming one of the most notable and talked about fighters in the division.