Michael Chiesa recently challenged referee Mario Yamasaki to a “friendly grappling match” on Sept. 30 at the Onnit invitational after the oft-criticized referee stopped his fight against Kevin Lee last month in a highly-controversial finish.
Despite the call-out from Chiesa and blow-back from company president Dana White, Mario stands by his call, and he has the backing from the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission (OSAC), as well.
“I saw the moment he went out,” Yamasaki told MMA Fighting. "He can complain, but there’s no other way. The athletic commission already reviewed it, there’s nothing more to say. (The commission) contacted me, I explained what I saw and he explains what he saw and felt. They watched the fight in slow motion and didn’t find anything wrong. It would have been a lot easier to let him go out longer, but my job is to defend his integrity when he's no longer doing it for himself."
The OSAC denied Chiesa’s appeal to overturn the call just last week. As for “The Maverick’s” challenge, Yamasaki believes he’s only doing it to get more media love and tapping out a 53-year-old man won’t change anything.
"I’m 53 years old, I don’t train anymore, how am I going to do this?” Yamasaki said. "And what’s the point of him fighting me? What would that change? What does he want to prove? It’s childish. Even if he catches me or if I catch him, that won’t change anything that happened in his fight,” he said. “He wants media and he already had media."
While Mario doesn't like the challenge, he is open to doing it as long as Chiesa is willing to do it on his turf.
"If he gives me some time to train, I’d grapple with him,” he added. "Tell him to come to my academy, no problem. I have 10 academies in the United States, he can come any time he wants.”
Shit just got real?