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25th Jul 2017

Referee responds to bitter UFC fighter’s offer to settle differences in grappling match

This seems a bit bonkers

Ben Kiely

He may feel hard done by, but the best course of action for UFC star Michael Chiesa is to move on.

Michael Chiesa is still upset over his controversial submission loss to Kevin Lee in UFC Oklahoma’s main event.

He felt the high-profile fight was stopped a tad early when referee Mario Yamasaki awarded Lee the victory via rear-naked choke with 23 seconds left in the opening round.

‘The Motown Phenom’ took his opponent’s back and locked in the choke. Yamasaki intervened when Chiesa’s hands went limp and he stopped defending the submission. However, Chiesa did not tap, nor did he go unconscious from the squeeze.

Although Yamasaki’s call really pissed off UFC president Dana White, it wasn’t an unfair finish. Under the unified rules of MMA, he is perfectly within his rights to stop the fight once the fighter is deemed to have stopped intelligently defending the submission attempt.

One month after the fight, Chiesa appeared on the MMA Hour, where he criticised Yamasaki’s abilities as a referee, claiming he had ‘fallen behind a little bit.”

He also challenged the 53-year-old to a grappling contest, to see if he is worthy of his fifth-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“Onnit is having an invitational on Sept. 30, so this is my open challenge to Yamasaki. I would like to test his fifth degree black belt in a friendly grappling match and let’s see if he’s what he says he is.

“And I’m not saying it in a hostile way, I’m saying, ‘hey, if you’re a fifth degree black belt, you should back up for the decisions you made.’ As a martial artist myself, that’s my open challenge to him, to headline Onnit Invitational on Sept. 30.”

There’s just the quarter of a century age difference between the referee and the fighter but Yamasaki has since responded to the challenge with an ultimatum that he would grapple Chiesa if he is granted time to train.

“I’m 53 years old, I don’t train anymore, how am I going to do this?” Yamasaki told MMA Fighting. “And what’s the point of him fighting me? What would that change? What does he want to prove? It’s childish. Even if he catches me or if I catch him, that won’t change anything that happened in his fight. What is he trying to prove?

“If he gives me some time to train, I’d grapple with him,” he added. “Tell him to come to my academy, no problem. I have 10 academies in the United States, he can come any time he wants.”