The main event of the UFC Fight Night: Oklahoma City card featured Kevin Lee defeating Michael Chiesa by submission.
There was a problem with that, as referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight even though Chiesa did not pass out or tap out while in the choke.
Frank Trigg knows MMA and controversy, and he talked about the controversial stoppage on The Holy Smokes MMA Podcast.
“Absolute gun shy,” Trigg says. “That’s absolutely what it is, but also to…first of all, this has nothing to do with Mario (Yamasaki) as a person. This has nothing to do with him as a personality, it has nothing to do with him outside of the cage. I’m gonna talk about his performance inside of the cage, that’s it, that’s all I’m talking about. I’m not going to talk about anything else, this is not a personal thing.
I’m lucky enough that my (officiating) teams are usually Mike Beltran, Jason Herzon, Val or “Big” John McCarthy…those are my head officials. So, if I screw up in the cage, still happens, believe me…I still make mistakes inside the cage, its just mechanics. I walk out and they immediately tell me what I did wrong and then they talk me through it. I figure out what it is and for the next fight, I have that (a mistake) fixed.
Mario’s at that level where if something goes wrong, horribly long and it’s usually the last fight of the night. So now he’s got a couple weeks or a month before he refs again. I’ve got like 20 minutes and I got a chance to fix it. Mario’s at the elite level and he is considered an elite referee, he’s doing the big events and he’s getting flown in to do these event. They (MMA promotions) are paying him, he’s an elite guy…so when he messes up, not only does everybody see it because everyone’s watching it. He’s got no way of fixing it until the next event, in Brazil…he went to long, in Oklahoma City…he went to short.
It’s also knowing the submission and whats happening. If I see a guy in an arm bar, I tell them backstage that If I see you in an arm bar and it doesn’t look like you know how to get out, it’s going to be a tap. You can blame me and you can yell at me and you can go to the press about me, I got thick skin, I will take it. I don’t want you to dislocate your elbow and be out for a year, I don’t want your knee getting blown out and then being out for two years. I wanna make sure you come back and fight because this is how you make your money.
I got no problem being the heel, but you got to show me that you want to get out of it (a submission). If you are trying to get out of it, then I’m going to let it go until it breaks, but if your just going to lay there and hope I stop it soon, then I’m just going to stop it way sooner than you think…that’s what I tell them backstage. In a choke, I’m going to make sure you are out, unless you are tapping because in a choke, nothings going to happen other than you going unconscious. Your not going to break your trachea, your not going to break something that will keep you out for long time, so I’m going to let it go a lot longer.
So for me in that situation, just watching the fights and sitting on the couch, this is my mindset and I’m not in it or completely in the moment. I would have let that fight go on for sure because its two grapplers and this guy has been on his back for a minute and a half at this point. He (Chiesa) has already defended everything and I’m going to assume he knows how to defend a second submission, but I would just let it go…that’s me.
Any referee should have let that position go on longer because there is no fear of any kind of permanent damage that’s going to be done in that choke. It’s just not going to happen. So, you should just let it go longer and it’s unfortunate for Chiesa, he got screwed. It’s great for Kevin Lee because he gets moved into title contention and he is able to call out Tony Ferguson.
Unfortunately we are not talking about a great fight, but we are talking about Mario again and it’s not that he’s a bad guy, but he has had a couple of mistakes as of late.
What is worse, letting go on long or letting it go to soon?”
The Holy Smokes MMA Podcast takes place every Tuesday at 3pm EST. With Showdown Joe and Sean Ross Sapp as your hosts. While former UFC fighters Frank Trigg and Sean Pierson appear every week as well.