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Michael Chiesa appealing controversial loss to Kevin Lee at UFC Fight Night 112

Michael Chiesa
Michael Chiesa is appealing the result of his loss to Kevin Lee.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Chiesa says he never stopped defending himself against Kevin Lee — and now he isn’t done fighting the result of the fight, either.

Chiesa has appealed his submission loss to Lee in the main event of UFC Fight Night 112 with the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission (OSAC) this week, Chiesa’s manager Daniel Rubenstein told MMA Fighting. Chiesa argues that he never tapped out, nor did he go unconscious while in a Lee rear-naked choke before referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight and awarded Lee the victory.

Due to what he believes is a clear early stoppage, Chiesa is requesting the result of the fight be overturned to a no contest. OSAC executive director Joe Miller confirmed Thursday that the commission has received the appeal letter. The event took place Sunday night in Oklahoma City.

In the first round of the fight, Lee took Chiesa’s back and locked in a choke. With 23 seconds remaining in the round, Yamasaki halted the action and gave Lee a technical submission win. Chiesa, still lucid and not unconscious, popped up immediately to dispute the call.

“To be clear — I did not tap, I did not verbally submit, I was not knocked unconscious, and at no point did I go unconscious,” Chiesa wrote in the appeal, which was obtained by MMA Fighting. “At all times, I used my years of experience and training to intelligently defend myself.”

Chiesa (14-3) appeared to have his arms go slightly limp right before Yamasaki stepped in, but he was not unconscious. The Washington state resident said there was a reason for that. In the appeal, Chiesa wrote he was “relaxing,” engaging his core and shoulders to shrug in order to reduce pressure and flexing his neck muscles. Chiesa added that those techniques allow for increased blood flow and breathing, creating space and force Lee to exert more strength for a finish that might not come.

“I was in this specific position for less than two seconds before Mr. Yamasaki wrongfully ended the contest,” Chiesa wrote. “Mr. Yamasaki offered no warnings that he may stop the bout and he did not make any effort to check my condition or offer any verbal commands of any kind.”

In the appeal, Chiesa cites a tweet by legendary referee John McCarthy about the situation. McCarthy wrote that a referee doesn’t stop a bout via submission until there is a tap out, a fighter goes unconscious or there is damage “like a dislocation.”

Chiesa, 29, also mentioned past controversial results involving Yamasaki, including him admitting fault in a late stoppage between Derrick Lewis and Travis Browne. Yamasaki has a “long history of failing to meet the standards officials are held to.” He added that Lee hit him with illegal, 12-to-6 elbows as well, opening up a cut in that first round.

UFC president Dana White slammed Yamasaki in a furious Instagram rant Sunday night right after the fight.

Yamasaki has not yet spoken publicly about the Lee-Chiesa finish.

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