Last month, veteran UFC referee Mario Yamasaki caught heat for a rather controversial stoppage he made during the UFC Fight Night 112 main event scrap between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee.
With Chiesa trapped in a rear naked choke with no escape in sight, ‘The Maverick’ stopped hand fighting the choke, and momentarily appeared to go limp, at which point Yamasaki promptly stopped the fight. Immediately, Chiesa popped up to protest the stoppage, however the fight was already over. The stoppage was an extremely controversial one in the eyes of many because despite Chiesa momentarily stopping his hand fighting, he never verbally, or physically, tapped out.
Now, nearly a month following the fight, Yamasaki is defending his actions once again, explaining the situation to MMAJunkie:
“It would have been easier to just have let it go on,” Yamasaki told MMAjunkie. “But the rule is clear, and when the fighters stop defending themselves intelligently, the referee must defend them. They don’t have to tap. As soon as he went out, I intervened. I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and I know what I saw.”
“The athletic commission has already gotten in touch with me so I can respond to what happened,” Yamasaki said. “I think he’s within his right to appeal. Chiesa is a great athlete, certainly one of the best in the world. The commission will assess what happened,, and I’m certain they’ll make the best possible decision.
“Our intention is not to harm anyone. I’ll keep doing my job ethically and certain of what is correct. That’s why I’ve stayed there for years.”
Fortunately, after 20 years as a referee, Yamasaki knows how to handle criticism in regards to the stoppage, and is taking everything in stride, despite the fact that he admits it does “get to you” on occasion.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/19/2017.