There had been a lot of beef between Lee and Chiesa leading up to their main event bout, mostly stemming from a trash-talking incident at a press conference that turned physical with Lee punching Chiesa.
Chiesa opened the fight strong, landing a couple stinging left hands early on before forcing Lee to the canvas. Lee, however, quickly regained his feet and slammed Chiesa to the canvas.
Chiesa was immediately attacking from his back, putting Lee in a triangle hold, but was unsuccessful in his attacks. Lee emerged from a scramble on Chiesa’s back, locking in a body triangle, and softening him up with punches to the head and face.
Chiesa continued to work, twice getting to his feet and trying to slam Lee off of his back, but Lee wouldn’t be deterred. He stayed glued to Chiesa’s back, punching until he felt an opening for the rear-naked choke. It was late in the round, the choke went in deep, but Chiesa was working to defend.
As Lee kept cranking on the choke, Chiesa briefly removed his hands from Lee’s arm and when he did referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight.
It wasn’t the way that Lee wanted to get the victory, but he also felt that the fight wasn’t going to take a turn.
“I did whatever I wanted. I wasn’t ever in danger. It was just gonna be four more rounds of that. If he wants to do it again, we can, but it was going to be four more rounds of that, and he damn sure didn’t want me standing up,” said Lee.
“It was coming anyway. I didn’t feel the tap. I didn’t see the tap. I never do. I just stopped because Mario told me to.”
Chiesa, of course, believed he wasn’t out of the fight and was doing what he needed to do to try and turn the tide. With only 23 seconds left in the fight, and without any imminent danger of physical damage, it’s hard to deny Chiesa’s argument.
“I was just trying to gut it out, elbow down, scramble out,” he said after the fight. “I’m not going to say any choice things about officiating. But Kevin, I will see you in December in Detroit for the rematch. Let’s keep the hype alive.”
Lee, however, would prefer to move on to more highly ranked opponents, despite being open to rematching Chiesa.
“I want Khabib, man, in December in Detroit,” said Lee, although he left the door open for Chiesa. “If Khabib don’t want it then Mike can get it in Detroit.”