During last weekend’s UFC Fight Night 125 event in Belém, Brazil, referee Mario Yamasaki was heavily criticized for not intervening earlier in the flyweight co-main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira. Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White was particularly incensed by the official.
The Brazilian has now responded to the criticism he received. In a statement sent to MMA Fighting, Yamasaki explains his thought process during the fight and admitted that he could have stopped the fight on two separate occasions when Shevchenko was in dominant positions and inflicting damage on her opponent. In case you missed the fight, he is referring to when Shevchenko had mounted Cachoeira and when the former 135-pound title contender trapped her opponent in a crucifix and was unable to defend herself. Yamasaki’s full statement is below.
“During the second round, I signalled to ‘Pedrita’ that if she didn’t move I’d stop the fight, and every time I’d stop, I told her and she moved to try to escape from the punches. Unfortunately, I also can’t control the number of blows thrown -- again, when a fighter is trying to come back she’s game.
Fighters go through times of hard effort and dedication to be there. MMA is a contact sport and no fighter likes his fight to be stopped with no chance to revert the result. In my opinion, I allowed Pedrita to be a warrior and keep fighting. I could have stopped the fight in the second crucifix or in the mount, but she moved the whole time.
I also recognize that I should have stopped when she tapped the first time to the rear-naked choke. I only stopped a few seconds later.
About other people’s opinions, it’s their right to say.”
This is not the first time White has expressed his opinion on the official and his ability to referee at the sport’s elite levels. He let loose during the official’s controversial call in the UFC Fight Night 112 main event between Kevin Lee and Michael Chiesa on June 26, 2017.