Michael Chiesa, Dana White and a lot of other folks are blasting Mario Yamasaki for stopping last night’s headliner at UFC Fight Night 112, when he did. But, Kevin Lee says the veteran referee made the right call.
Lee took on the fellow lightweight contender Chiesa in the main event, and as the opening round neared its end, he locked in a deep, rear-naked-choke. Yamasaki proceeded to stop the fight, however, before Chiesa tapped out or went unconscious, and the latter was outraged by the call. The UFC President White also made it crystal clear he didn’t agree with Yamasaki’s decision, as he trashed the ref on Instagram.
Well, when Lee was asked about the controversial end to the bout, here is some of what the rising fighter had to say (quote via MMA Junkie):
“(Chiesa) went limp,” Lee said. “You can see he’s fighting the choke. I switch from palm to palm; as soon as I do, his arms go limp.”
“Mario’s a very experienced ref,” Lee said. “Mario saw it and stopped the fight. If he wouldn’t have, there was still 45 seconds left in the fight. I don’t see what the controversy is about. It wasn’t like I was going to let go.”
Now, there’s no doubt that it looked like Chiesa was in serious, serious trouble, and that the end was near. The lightweight’s arm did appear to drop right before Yamasaki jumped in, but Chiesa quickly got up and protested the call. Thus the controversy.
It will be interesting to see if the UFC moves forward from this, or if they book a rematch. Lee has won five in a row, and prior to last night’s bout, he was ranked #11. So, if the UFC doesn’t run it back, and has Lee fight Chiesa again, chances are he’ll be tapped for a fight with a top five ranked 155’er.
UFC FN 112 took place in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Arena.