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UFC Fight Night 112 results: Kevin Lee beats Michael Chiesa after controversial early stoppage

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Chiesa vs Lee
Kevin Lee got past Mike Chiesa, but not without controversy.
Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

It was supposed to be a grudge match between two of the most talented lightweights in the world. A victory would push one fighter to the upper echelon of the division.

Instead, all most people will be talking about after the UFC Fight Night 112 main event Sunday night in Oklahoma City is a blown call by referee Mario Yamasaki.

With the first round winding down, Lee locked in a rear-naked choke on Michael Chiesa. Yamasaki stopped the bout at 4:37, a submission victory over Chiesa.

There was only one problem: Chiesa never tapped. He might have been close to going out, but now we’ll never know what would have happened if Yamasaki didn’t stop the bout prematurely.

“It was coming anyway,” Lee said. … “I didn’t feel the tap. I never do. I just did what Mario told me.”

Chiesa was livid, screaming “I didn’t tap!” immediately when it happened, but took the high road in his post-fight comments, challenging Lee to a rematch in December in Lee’s hometown of Detroit.

“Kevin, I will see you in December for the rematch,” Chiesa said. “Let’s keep the hype alive.”

Lee and Chiesa exchanged much trash talk heading into this fight and it all climaxed last month when the two came to blows during a press conference. Lee made a comment about Chiesa’s mother and Chiesa rushed him on the stage. Lee threw a right hand and security broke them up.

It did well to hype this fight between a pair of excellent 155-pound fighters, but fans didn’t get the satisfying win they would have liked. Neither did the athletes.

Lee was surely in control. After slamming Chiesa to the ground, he took his back, landed big punches from back mount and got himself in a strong position for the choke. Lee was on his way to winning the first round easily and maybe Chiesa was going to fall unconscious from the submission, but it’s impossible to know for sure. Yamasaki ended it prematurely.

This is the latest in a string of controversial endings involving Yamasaki, most of which are late stoppages. UFC president Dana White blasted Yamasaki for a stoppage last year and the Brazilian ref took heat earlier this month for a late stoppage.

Lee (16-2) has now won five in a row and he called out Khabib Nurmagomedov afterward, for a fight in Detroit. “The Motown Phenom” has been on a roll, finishing his last four fights and could be close to an elusive title shot. Lee is still just 24 years old and looks to be an up-and-coming star.

Chiesa (14-3) came in on a three-fight winning streak. The Washington native had not fought in more than a year, though, since an April 16 win over Beneil Dariush. Chiesa, 29, has an impressive 7-3 record in the UFC and was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 15.

Call him the road warrior.

Tim Boetsch came into Johny Hendricks’ home state and finished the former UFC welterweight champion in the second round by TKO. Boetsch used a right head kick to rock Hendricks and then finished with multiple hard uppercuts with Hendricks on his knees.

Boetsch was a counter striker in the first round, with Hendricks coming in. Boetsch was the one landing all the hard shots, including a nice assortment of leg and body kicks. The Maine native has gotten more diverse in his stand up late in his career.

Boetsch (21-11) has won three of his last four fights and two of his last three in the home area of his opponent. “The Barbarian” beat Rafael Natal at UFC 205 in New York last year. Boetsch, 36, has had this run of success since moving back down to middleweight.

Hendricks (18-7) was competing in his second fight moving up to middleweight and didn’t have as much success as he did in a unanimous decision win over Hector Lombard in February. This marks three losses in four fights for “Bigg Rigg.” To make matters worse, Hendricks, now 33, missed weight by two pounds Saturday. That was a prevailing issue for him at 170 pounds and he apparently has not shaken it at 185.

In the main card opener, BJ Penn showed some flashes of his old, legendary ways. But they were few and far between in a majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-27) loss to Denis Siver. Penn dropped Siver in the second round, the round he clearly won. And he showed that great jab that helped him win many fights in his prime. But “The Prodigy” slowed in the second and Siver, still apt with his kicking game, picked him apart in the third.

Penn (16-12-2) lost in his comeback fight to Yair Rodriguez by second-round TKO in January. He’s now 0-2 since returning from retirement after three years away. The Hawaiian superstar has not won a fight since beating Matt Hughes in 2010.

Siver (23-11, 1 NC), meanwhile, snapped a two-fight losing streak with the victory. The German-Russian fighter, now 38 years old, had not fought in two years coming in.

Felice Herrig has been a professional MMA fighter for nearly a decade. And she has never looked better than she does now.

“Lil’ Bulldog” defeated Justine Kish by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27) to win her third straight fight. The woman who battled personal issues and lost to Paige VanZant in 2015 is long gone and now Herrig is angling for a big strawweight contender fight.

Herrig (13-6) has knocked off Kish, Alexa Grasso and Kailin Curran in this stretch. Her striking looked sharp and she dominated ground exchanges with Kish, taking her back often and almost finishing a rear-naked choke in the third. Herrig, 32, now has a 4-1 record in the UFC. Kish (6-1) was undefeated coming into the bout.

Dominick Reyes won by knockout in 53 seconds at LFA 13 three weeks ago. He topped that number in his UFC debut.

The California native beat Joachim Christensen by TKO in just 29 seconds Sunday in Oklahoma City. Reyes rocked Christensen early and then landed a missile of a straight left to put the Danish fighter down and out.

In his last three fights, Reyes (7-0), a top light heavyweight prospect, has only been in the cage for 1:49, winning all of them by first-round knockout. The 27-year-old former football player has won all but one of his pro fights by first-round finish. Christensen (14-6) has lost two straight.

Also on the main card, Tim Means beat Alex Garcia by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Thirteen months ago, Darrell Horcher’s chances of ever fighting again were slim after near-fatal motorcycle crash. On Saturday, he made a miraculous return and picked up his first UFC victory, a split decision over Devin Powell.

Horcher (13-2), who lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice in his UFC debut in April 2016, tore up both knees in the crash and sustained injuries to his liver and kidneys. Somehow, just over a year later, the 29-year-old was able to pull out a win. Powell (8-3) has lost two straight to begin his UFC career.

Also on the FS2 prelims, former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza picked up a unanimous decision win over Maryna Moroz, Marvin Vettori beat Vitor Miranda by unanimous decision and Clay Guida defeated Erik Koch by dominant unanimous decision.

Tony Martin beat Johnny Case by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) on UFC Fight Pass. Also on that portion of the prelims, Jared Gordon finished Michel Quinones by second-round TKO.

In the night’s opener on Fight Pass, Jeremy Kimball finished Josh Stansbury at 1:21 of the first round via TKO.

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