Mario Yamasaki oversaw a female flyweight bout between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira on (Feb. 3, 2018) in Belem, Brazil. Shevchenko was a massive 10-to-1 betting favorite going in and dominated Cachoeira.
Valentina Shevchenko made her UFC women’s flyweight debut against newcomer Priscila Cachoeira. Shevchenko dominated the Brazilian from start to finish, battered her face brutally, and won the fight with a rear-naked choke. There were several instances at which referee Mario Yamasaki could have halt the fight, but he never did. Moreover, Priscila suffered a serious knee injury early in the bout.
Mario Yamasaki issued a statement on Monday and defended his UFC Belem performance. He admitted he could have waved the fight off sooner, but said he “allowed Priscila to be a warrior and keep fighting,” implying that toughness reason he didn’t stop the fight.
In a post-fight statement from Priscila, she even thanked her coach for not throwing in the towel even though she was out-landed by a gross margin of 230-3 total strikes.
In a recent statement issued by MMAFighting, CABMMA “discussed” the stoppage with Yamasaki at the commission’s post-fight meeting.
The Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) has discussed the stoppage with referee Mario Yamasaki 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. Round two 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 a 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 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, whose 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 regulator’s 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.