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Outraged Michael Chiesa plans to appeal Kevin Lee loss, says Mario Yamasaki ‘should never officiate ever again’

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Chiesa vs Lee
Michael Chiesa ripped into referee Mario Yamasaki for his controversial stoppage at UFC Fight Night 112.
Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Chiesa didn’t hold back in the aftermath of his controversial loss to Kevin Lee at UFC Fight Night 112.

Chiesa, who lost a grudge match to Lee via first-round submission in Sunday night’s headlining bout, ripped into referee Mario Yamasaki following the event, calling for Yamasaki to “never officiate ever again” after the veteran official questionably stopped the fight in the closing seconds of the opening round. At the time of the stoppage, Lee was locked onto Chiesa’s back with a body triangle and squeezing for a palm-to-palm rear-naked choke, however Chiesa never tapped and immediately jumped up to protest Yamasaki’s call.

An outraged Chiesa further elaborated his anger on the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show.

“Go back and watch [Lee’s] fight with Al Iaquinta,” Chiesa said. “He straps in palm-to-palm and really squeezes, and that choke requires a lot of arm pump, a lot of arm strength. So once he switched with palm-to-palm, I just went into this, flexed my neck, get my arms in, get my palms up, and once I feel him start to loosen up, I buckle my elbow down. I mean, I might not be ranked by a belt instructor (in jiu-jitsu), but I am a black belt level MMA fighter. I don’t lose by rear-naked choke. You’ve seen me get in this position time and time again. I was doing totally fine.

“And I think that it’s very unbalanced officiating when two fights before that, we see Justine Kish just get her head squeezed off and they didn’t do anything about it. Like, how are you going to let that slide, but you into the main event slot, a heated rivalry, hyped fight, and you let it crumble like this? I mean, Mario Yamasaki should just crawl in a hole and never step inside of any type of professional mixed martial arts event. He should never officiate ever again. He should spend more time going over the rules than making stupid little heart symbols to the cameras.”

Chiesa said he remembers looking up at the monitors in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena and seeing 30 seconds left on the clock, then switching defenses and “just flexing up on my neck, bringing my hands up, and letting him pump his arm out” in the hopes of escaping the choke before the end of the round. That, however, didn’t happen, as Yamasaki made his call as soon as Chiesa stopped fighting Lee’s hands.

As it stands, the contentious loss was a significant blow to Chiesa’s chase of the UFC title, as the lightweight standout had previously racked up a trio of impressive victories over Mitch Clarke, Jim Miller, and Beneil Dariush, winning the latter two via rear-naked choke — Chiesa’s signature move.

Afterward, a frustrated Chiesa called for an immediate rematch against Lee and said he planned to appeal the loss to the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission. He also had plenty to say regarding Yamasaki.

“The second I saw him coming in to break it up, I instantly knew,” Chiesa said. “I mean, the guy has a reputation for poor officiating. I’m not disappointed in myself for how I reacted, like a poor sport. But not only did you rob me of an opportunity, you robbed the fans of a great main event, you robbed Kevin. Kevin got a win over me and there’s not many people in the world that have done that, but now it’s really not a win. It’s just surrounded in controversy. Everybody knows.

“Dude, I’ve fought the best black belts in my division. Jim Miller, Joe Lauzon, Beneil Dariush; all these guys have taken my back in the first round. I always get out and I always win. You robbed me. So I think it’s only right that me and my team, we go back, we go to the commission, we do what we can to get this overturned, and I’m going to look to get a rematch. I’ll fight in Detroit, I’ll fight in December. I’ll fight him right now. We’re running it back, there’s no way we’re not. I’m not going to have this opportunity robbed from me like this.”

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