Referee Mario Yamasaki doesn’t believe he made a mistake during Kevin Lee’s submission of Michael Chiesa.
Michael Chiesa was submitted by Kevin Lee in June at a UFC event in Oklahoma City after Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight due to a rear naked choke. However, Chiesa never tapped out of the fight and was up on his feet following the stoppage, which led many fans, fighters, and even Dana White to believe Yamasaki stepped in just a tad early as it seemed “Maverick” was still in the process of blacking out.
After receiving a lot of criticism due to the stoppage, Mario Yamasaki spoke to Combate about the fight. In his eyes, though, there’s no doubt Chiesa was out of the fight.
“It would be easier to just let him be, but I’m a fifth degree jiu-jitsu black belt. I’m sure he went to sleep. Everyone said he didn’t tap, but there’s no tapping when you go to sleep, otherwise he would’ve moved his arm. I only have to move an athlete when I’m in doubt and there was no doubt. I saw a guy who stopped defending himself and going limp.”
“He came back very fast. I was in the moment, there’s nothing I can do. That’s where the confusion and the controversy begin. Dana, as a promoter and an excellent business man, is in his right. He promotes well. I don’t have to say anything. It’s his opinion, he thinks Chiesa didn’t go to sleep. Whoever is in there at the time knows. I don’t need to answer anything. The more I talk about this, the more it’ll grow.”
Although the criticism was hard, Yamasaki made it clear he can take it. It’s his kids and other children he’s worried about.
“I’m used to it. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. What hurt was my kids, nephews and nieces who are little, asking why they’re talking about me. People calling you things can get to you in the first or second day, but we’re tough. You just have to deal with it, there’s no way around it.”