Referee Mario Yamasaki drew flak over the weekend for his supposed ill-advised decisions during the co-main event fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira in Belem, Brazil. Most sentiments were about Yamasaki’s failure to stop the fight sooner, allowing Cachoeira to take unnecessary damage.
Yamasaki’s refereeing on Saturday night drew the ire of UFC president Dana White, who hopes to never see the aforementioned official back in the UFC cage. Yamasaki, however, defended himself by saying he only allowed Cachoeira to “be a warrior and keep fighting.”
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Shevchenko gave her side of the story, from how she saw the action first-hand. According to the former women’s bantamweight title contender, Cachoeira was doing enough to keep the fight from being stopped.
“When I am inside of the Octagon, I go there and I will not stop before someone stops me. And (if) I feel that I have to continue, I will continue with all my power,” Shevchenko told Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting). “And of course I was feeling that this is a moment, it will end soon. And when Mario, for Priscila, he said, ‘If you do not move, I will stop the fight’ — in this moment, she started trying to escape and do everything.”
“Before the last minute, the last second, she was trying to escape, and it doesn’t matter — she was receiving (punches) hard but she was trying to do something. And that moment, I was thinking, okay, if it’s not stopped with just punching, then I went for the submission and I just continued, because in my mind, like a fighter, I have to do everything to finish my fight.”
Shevchenko refused to directly come to Yamasaki’s defense, but she believes the veteran referee was not totally in the wrong.
“I’m a fighter. I’m not a referee, I’m not a judge,” Shevchenko said. “I do my job, and the referees and judges, they do their jobs. For example, before the fight, Mario, he came to our changing room and explained the rules, what he will do in case (something happens), and he said, ... ‘While you are moving and trying to protect (yourself), I will keep the fight going.’”
“And this is what I think it was in the fight, because Priscila, she had good [heart] and she didn’t want to quit, and she wasn’t laying there and saying, ‘Someone please help me.’ No, she was trying to do something, something every time.”
Shevchenko won the fight via second-round submission. According to a FightMetric tally, she landed a total of 230 strikes while only receiving three from Cachoeira.