This Sunday in Oklahoma City, Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee stepped into the Octagon for a highly anticipated grudge match. The fight didn’t make it out of the first round, as Lee picked up an impressive submission win over Chiesa. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the fight was stopped before Chiesa physically tapped, with referee Mario Yamasaki stopping the fight when Chiesa stopped hand fighting with the choke.
While many, including UFC President Dana White, ripped referee Mario Yamasaki for the stoppage, which he also agreed was premature, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping took things one step further, calling for referees and judges to be held accountable for poor decisions. He spoke on his Believe You Me podcast:
“A guy with the experience of Yamasaki, when it’s a main event, I think he messed up. I think he messed up and he should have let the fight go a few seconds longer. And I’m only talking a few seconds. As fighters, we train for God knows how long for these fights and generally, the way payment is structured within the UFC is 50-50, 50 percent to show and 50 percent to win. That’s generally how it starts. So not only has he lost the fight, not only does he have another loss on his record, but he lost half his salary.
“I’ll tell you what I think needs to happen. Listen, I like Mario Yamasaki. He’s been a good referee over the years but when you make a mistake like that I feel that people need to be held accountable. If we make mistakes in the cage as fighters, we are held accountable. If we break the rules, if we flaunt the rules and the authority, then we are often given a fine. . . And if you fail to make weight, 20 percent to 25 percent is taken in some cases. My point is, officials need to be held accountable as well. So Mario Yamasaki should have to sit down with the commission – I’m not trying to get him into any s**t, I’m not trying to cost him his job, he’s a very good referee – but he has to explain his position on why he did that.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/28/2017.