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‘The sport is better off without you’ - Michael Chiesa slams referee Mario Yamasaki’s return

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Michael Chiesa isn’t too thrilled about the planned return of veteran referee Mario Yamasaki.

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa v Lee Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

So Mario Yamasaki is planning to make a return to MMA officiating. This week, the 56-year-old veteran referee revealed his comeback plans for 2021.

I’ll go back to refereeing as soon as possible. Maybe not in the UFC, but Bellator, PFL, Shooto, other promotions, so I can be in the sport. It will be up to the athletic commissions to accept me back and license me and start giving me fights to referee.

Yamasaki isn’t exactly a beloved figure in MMA, mainly for his involvement in several controversies throughout the years. One moment that always stands out is his officiating of the Valentina Shevchenko-Priscilla Cachoeira fight in 2018, where he seemingly allowed Cachoeira to absorb over 200 strikes.

Then there was his questionable stoppage of the Kevin Lee-Michael Chiesa fight in 2017. Lee had a rear-naked choke sunk in, and Chiesa did appear to be in real danger. But without a clear tap or visible signs of passing out, Yamasaki stepped in to put the fight to a halt.

That stoppage rightly left a bad taste in Chiesa’s mouth.

And upon getting wind of Yamasaki’s intended comeback, “Maverick” had this to say.

Yamasaki hasn’t stepped inside the MMA cage since the Shevchenko-Cachoeira debacle. As part of his return plans, he intends to enroll in an online judging course courtesy of the California State Athletic Commission to update himself on new rule changes.