Referee takes heat after stoppage at UFC Fight Night 112

UFC lightweight contender Michael Chiesa immediately protested when referee Mario Yamasaki called a stop to his main event bout against Las Vegan Kevin Lee moments after Lee tightened his grip on a rear-naked choke.

Chiesa still wasn’t done complaining about the ruling late into Sunday night at the UFC Fight Night 112 post-fight news conference in Oklahoma City.

“This is the main event and that is JV (expletive),” Chiesa said of Yamasaki’s stoppage.

“That guy is too focused on being some kind of playboy in front of the cameras, making his little heart logos. Maybe he should go back and read the (expletive) rule book. I’m not trying to sound like a poor sport, but it’s really hard to be positive right now when I’ve been striving for this main-event spot. And I get it and then it feels like I just got (expletive) robbed. It’s hard not to feel that way.”

Lee controlled nearly the entire first round and appeared to have the choke locked in fairly deep with more than 20 seconds left in the round when Yamasaki stepped in. While Chiesa clearly didn’t tap out, his arms appeared to flail limply, which likely made Yamasaki believe the fighter was going unconscious.

Chiesa immediately hopped up to complain.

He wasn’t the only one angry with the call. He also wasn’t alone in taking a shot at Yamasaki’s trademark move of forming a heart with his hands each time he is announced in the cage before a fight.

“This guy is more concerned with doing this dumb ass heart (expletive) than (reffing) the fight!!!” UFC president Dana White posted on Instagram. “Steals a great moment from Lee or let Mike fight it or tap. Nobody gives a (expletive) that u can make a heart with ur hands like a 12-year-old girl. They want u to pay attention to what’s going on in the fight and do ur job.”

For his part, Lee said he thought Chiesa was going out and he would have continued to dominate him regardless of when it was stopped.

The UFC doesn’t select judges or referees for fights. That job is handled by the athletic commission with jurisdiction over the event, though there is typically a process by which the organization or either fighter can challenge such assignments.

There’s a good chance that could happen if he is possibly going to be selected for a future fight involving Chiesa.

“Mario Yamasaki should just crawl in a hole and never step inside of any type of professional mixed martial arts event,” Chiesa said after the fight. “He should never officiate, ever again.”

Seattle card canceled

The UFC is no longer planning an August pay-per-view event in Seattle.

In a two-paragraph story posted on the organization’s website Monday, UFC officials revealed a Sept. 9 card in Edmonton, Canada, will now be referred to as UFC 215.

That designation had previously been reserved for an Aug. 19 card in Seattle.

Washington native Demetrious Johnson was set to headline the card before a public spat arose between him and UFC president Dana White over who would challenge Johnson for the belt.

The schedule change leaves the UFC without an event from Aug. 5 through Sept. 2. That timeframe does, however, include UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s scheduled boxing match against Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26.

‘Karate Hottie’ in body issue

UFC women’s strawweight contender Michelle Waterson will be one of the athletes featured in the 2017 ESPN The Magazine “Body Issue.”

“The Karate Hottie” was one of 23 athletes named Monday for the issue scheduled to hit newsstands on July 7. Pictures and video from the photoshoot are expected to hit the internet on July 5.

The issue, which features nude athletes in various locations and poses, has included several MMA fighters in the past. Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Conor McGregor have all been featured. Cris “Cyborg” Justino did the issue with then-husband Evangelista Santos in 2010 and Randy Couture appeared in the debut issue in 2009.

Waterson, a former Invicta champion and mother of a 6-year-old daughter, is coming off a loss to top contender Rose Namajunas in April.

More MMA: See more of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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