Michael Chiesa was riding a three fight winning streak until he ran into Kevin Lee in 2017. While he lost the fight, there was plenty of controversy, as referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight without Chiesa tapping out.
Yamasaki has drawn the ire of many for his refereeing tactics, and time hasn't healed the wound for the top-10 lightweight in Chiesa. When speaking to Fightful.com's James Lynch, Chiesa ran down the experience in the moments after the Lee fight and said that he tried to plead his case to the longtime referee.
"Mario like an ostrich, buried his fuckin' head in the sand. He had nothing to say to me. I had a lot of things to say to him and I was saying them right to him. He was just standing there looking at the jumbotron at the arena as the crowd was booing the place's doors off. It's unfortunate that things happened for me, but I'm selfless. Who cares about my fight? The reason he shouldn't be reffing is the Shevchenko fight," said Chiesa.
In January, Yamasaki gained even more criticism after he failed to stop a fight in which Valentina Shevchenko mollywhopped Priscila Cachoeira. Not only did Yamasaki not stop the fight after hundreds of unanswered strikes, but also failed to see Cahoeira's tap out, as well.
"His number one job is to protect the fighters. It's not to enforce the rules, it's to protect them from themselves sometimes. His alibi was 'oh I was giving her a chance to be a warrior.' No, that's not what an official does. If you're letting everyone be a warrior, you're letting some people get obliterated. The girl had to have an ACL surgery, she may be permanently debilitated. I hope I never see that guy in there with our careers and our lives in his hands, I hope he's done," said Chiesa.
In a bit of irony, Kevin Lee told Fightful recently that he hopes that he and Chiesa's next opponent in Anthony "Showtime" Pettis can work together for their respective upcoming fights. Chiesa recounted a story that Lee actually told Lynch recently as well, about an interaction the two had in Las Vegas recently.
"I was walking into the PI and he was doing his metabolic testing, and I made sure to give him a friendly middle finger. I wouldn't say there's bad blood, I just want to kick the guy's ass. I don't blame (the UFC) for not booking an immediate rematch. If it were up to me, optimally, he beats Barboza, I beat Pettis, we match up at International Fight Week in July, but we'll see what happens," Chiesa said.
In the full interview, Michael Chiesa (13-3) discusses his upcoming fight against Anthony Pettis (20-7) at UFC 223 on Apr. 7. Michael also explains why he hasn't fought since June, his thoughts on Mario Yamasaki's reffing and recently attending his first WWE event.