UFC President Dana White, and lightweight Michael Chiesa were among those critical of ref Mario Yamasaki following UFC Belem.
There were plenty of story lines in the cage Saturday at UFC Belem. Unfortunately, one of them was the performance of ref Mario Yamasaki, who may very well have put a UFC newcomer’s health on the line at the event.
Yamasaki is, of course, no stranger to controversy. Back in June, he was the subject of UFC President Dana White’s ire for stopping a fight too early. That happened to be the lightweight battle between Kevin Lee and Michael Chiesa. Nor was it the first time Yamasaki had blown a call.
Saturday night in Belem, however, it wasn’t an early stoppage, but rather a late one. Valentina Shevchenko completely brutalized Priscila Cachoeira in the latter’s UFC debut. Despite multiple chances to wave off the fight, Yamasaki sat idly by, allowing the mugging to continue. It was one-sided. It was bloody. It was not a competitive fight, nor was Cachoeira intelligently defending herself by the end. It met all the criteria for a stoppage, yet instead, Yamasaki allowed it to go on… and on… and on… until ‘Bullet’ slipped an arm under the neck and got a quick tap from her opponent.
The end result was more of a mercy killing than anything. Total strikes in the fight: 230 to 3 in favor of Shevchenko.
Before the card was even over, Dana White let his feelings be known, calling Yamasaki’s performance “disgusting.”
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Priscilla Cachoeira, you showed so much heart and toughness in that fight. I’m honored to have you fight in the UFC. Unfortunately the ref is there to protect you and Mario DID NOT do that. This isn’t his first disgusting performance in the octagon. Another unfortunate thing is that i can’t do anything about I️t only the Brazilian commission can and i am hoping after this scary, incompetent showing he hopefully will never set foot in that Octagon again. Strikes landed was 230-3.
It wasn’t the only bad call on the night — Osiris Maia allowed Iuri Alcantara’s stoppage of Joe Soto to go on a few seconds longer than it really needed to. Yet Yamasaki’s non-call was so blatant, you had to wonder where his head was at. Because it clearly wasn’t in the arena.
After the event came to a close, Michael Chiesa, victim of last Summer’s bad call by Yamasaki, added his own voice to the mix. He noted that “a referee’s job is to protect the fighters. Mario Yamasaki has cemented the fact that he is incapable of being responsible for the safety & well being of athletes competing in MMA.”
He went on to call the beleagured ref “a threat to a fighters career with his inconsistencies” and “a danger to a fighers [sic] life.” Chiesa and Yamasaki had a bit of a public spat after the Lee fight, so it’s no surprise to see the lightweight speak up here.
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) February 4, 2018
Since referees are hired and assigned by athletic commissions and not the UFC directly, the most they can do is to campaign for Yamasaki to sit on the sidelines. Given Mario Yamasaki’s particularly bad showing Saturday, that may happen.