Referee Mario Yamasaki came in for heavy criticism on Saturday night for allowing Priscila Cachoeira to keep fighting during a one-sided beatdown against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC Fight Night 125 in Brazil.
Now the veteran referee has responded with a statement in which he explains the reasons why he didn’t stop the fight earlier.
“During the second round, I signaled 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.”
However, Brazil’s regulatory body, CABMMA have also spoke out on the matter, and have made it clear they feel that Yamasaki should have stopped the action earlier.
“The Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) has discussed the stoppage with referee Mario Yamaski at the post-fight meeting held at venue with all of the officials assigned for the event. We made it clear all of our concerns regarding the incident.
“Priscilla Cachoeira demonstrated toughness and heart during the two rounds, but those are two attitudes that should not interfere or confuse the referee when it comes to stoppages. In the first round, in the last couple of minutes, it was clear that Priscilla could not defend herself efficiently nor technically. That reflected directly on the judges’ scores, all three giving it a 10-8 (score). Round 2 was the same, but obviously, with Priscilla not physically recovered enough from the previous round to demonstrate her chance against Valentina, the fight should have been called off right in the initial moments. And if the fight wasn’t called off, it would have been a clear 10-7, due to what we considered an overwhelming dominance and significant impact in the round.
“As to the matchmaking, the fight was approved by CABMMA. If it was not well matched, and that was being evidently demonstrated during the fight, it should have been identified by the referee in charge, as he is the highest authority in that moment, and his role is to protect the fighter at all times, including stopping the fight at the proper moment.
“CABMMA understands that errors can occur from all aspects, but they should be recognized and corrected to avoid similar cases in the future. And in a sport where the main concern is the fighter’s health and integrity, from the regulators’ standpoint we should do everything possible to minimize the risk of a scenario such as the one of this weekend.
“Mario Yamasaki has been one of the best referees in MMA for the past decade and played a key role in helping our commission build the team of officials. We will discuss the next steps together and decide what is certainly best for all parts involved in the process.”
Meanwhile, it’s emerged that Cachoeira has been medically suspended for six months as a result of the injuries she sustained during the fight, but it’s likely the Brazilian fighter will be out for even longer than that as to add to her woes, her coach has revealed that she tore her ACL early in the fight.