One of the most controversial endings in recent UFC history was the submission win of Kevin Lee over Michael Chiesa last June 25th in Oklahoma City. Chiesa was on the receiving end of a rear naked choke which he did not tap to, but the fight was nonetheless stopped by presiding referee Mario Yamasaki.
From his end, Yamasaki says he was “sure Chiesa went to sleep”, based on his assessment as a fifth-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, Chiesa then came forward to issue an open challenge to Yamasaki in a grappling match.
“Onnit is having an invitational on Sept. 30, so this is my open challenge to Yamasaki,” Chiesa said (via MMA Fighting). “I would like to test his fifth-degree black belt in a friendly grappling match and let’s see if he’s what he says he is.”
“And I’m not saying it in a hostile way, I’m saying, ‘hey, if you’re a fifth-degree black belt, you should back up for the decisions you made.’ As a martial artist myself, that’s my open challenge to him, to headline Onnit Invitational on Sept. 30.”
Chiesa went on to further criticize Yamasaki, comparing him to other referees such as Herb Dean, “Big” John McCarthy, and Josh Rosenthal.
“The second Mario Yamasaki walked into my locker room me, Sam [Sicilia] and my coach Ric we looked at each other like, ‘oh f--k’. I’m not here to try to bash the guy but he’s got a track record for not the best at officiating.”
“I know he’s a fifth-degree black belt and that’s all fine and dandy, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fifth degree black belt in officiating,” Chiesa continued. “I feel like he’s fallen behind a little bit, and I think it’s sad when a referee walks into your room and you and your teammates are looking at each other like, ‘oh sh-t, we got this guy.’”
“I like the work of Herb Dean, Big John, Dan Miragliotta, and I think the best ref in the business is Josh Rosenthal, but unfortunately we can’t have him. It sucks when an official walks into your room and you’re like, ‘crap,’ and it’s just a crappy feeling.”