Mario Yamasaki’s performance did not go unnoticed by the Brazilian Athletic Commission of MMA.
CABMMA’s executive director, Cristiano Sampaio, today told MMAjunkie the veteran referee shouldn’t have let Priscilla Cachoeira take so much damage prior to her second-round submission loss this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 125.
Sampaio went so far as to say Cachoeira’s bout with onetime bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) should have been stopped early in the second round when it became clear Cachoeira (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) hadn’t recovered from the beating she took in the first round of the FS1-televised co-headliner at Mangueirinho Gymnasium in Belem, Para, Brazil.
Anatomy of a bloodbath: Late stoppage wasn’t the only issue with Shevchenko vs. Cachoeira
While Sampaio defended CABMMA’s decision to sanction the fight, he indicated action is forthcoming on Yamasaki’s status.
Here is Sampaio’s statement, sent via email:
“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.”
Yamasaki today broke his silence on the fight, releasing his own statement that said Cachoeira was allowed to compete late into the second round because she continued to indicate she was in the fight by moving defensively. The ref acknowledged he missed an initial tap from the fighter, but “allowed” her “to be a warrior” by not calling it off earlier.
Whether Yamasaki’s statement and CABMMA’s stance leads to meaningful action is the question.
Priscila Cachoeira refutes criticism, defends coach: ‘We’re the ones who know my limits’
The UFC quickly came out against the veteran referee after the fight, with UFC President Dana White going so far as to say Yamasaki shouldn’t be allowed to referee again. UFC Executive David Shaw said the promotion will take steps to ensure a similar situation didn’t repeat.
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 125, check out the UFC Events section of the site.