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Mario Yamasaki: I allowed Cachoeira ‘to be a warrior and keep fighting’ vs. Shevchenko

Veteran MMA referee Mario Yamasaki released a statement on his decision making in the UFC Belem co-main between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira.

UFC Fight Night: Shevchenko v Cachoeira Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Having come under fire for his controversial refereeing of the UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders co-main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira, Mario Yamasaki has broken his silence on what transpired last Staurday night.

Shevchenko, who was an enormous favorite to defeat Cachoeira, dominated from the opening seconds, bloodied and busted up the Brazilian’s face, then submitted her with a rear-naked choke towards the end of round 2, with Yamasaki missing Cachoeira’s initial tap. Yamasaki was heavily criticized for not stopping the fight much sooner, as Cachoeira continued to absorb unanswered strikes on the ground.

In a statement to MMA Fighting, he explained what led to him not calling a halt to the lopsided beating 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.

Immediately after the fight, Dana White ripped into Yamasaki on Instagram, calling for him to never ref another UFC contest again. The UFC also said that they intend to work with commissions to make sure another incident such as this one doesn’t happen again.

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