Veteran referee Mario Yamasaki was involved in yet another officiating-related controversy on Saturday night in Belem, Brazil. He is particularly being criticized for how he handled the co-main event fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Priscila Cachoeira.
While UFC president Dana White despises the idea of Yamasaki being back in the Octagon for officiating duties, Shevchenko, on the other hand, feels her opponent did just enough to keep the fight going. But for former two-time welterweight title challenger Frank Trigg, Yamasaki actually handled everything accordingly.
“I would have stopped it a minute earlier, but that’s because I already know the result of the fight; I already know what’s going to happen,” Trigg said during a recent guesting on MMAjunkie Radio. “I wasn’t in the cage. I wasn’t doing it live. From what I watched on Mario, he did everything correct. No sound, but I assume he’s talking to her. Every time she got spoken to she moved. I assume everything he did was exactly within the mechanics of the way I was taught. He was doing it correct.”
“It’s his style. He’s always a little bit laid back and delayed when it comes to the stoppages. That’s just how his style is,” Trigg continued. “You have your opponent, but you also have to worry about the ref. It’s getting better obviously not, but you still have to worry about the ref. When you have Mario, you know he’s coming in a little late, and you’ve got to keep going.”
Trigg recounted a similar experience during his second title fight against Matt Hughes at UFC 52 in 2005, where he claims Yamasaki failed to call out a low blow that led to him being eventually caught in a rear-naked choke submission in the first round.
But since that is all water under the bridge, Trigg has no problems with what happened over the weekend.
“I think Mario did a fine job, and believe me, Mario and I have no love lost between each other,” Trigg said. “This fool cost me a million dollars. Let’s be very clear: It’s not like, ‘Oh, it’s ‘Big’ John McCarthy, it’s Mike Bell, and it’s Mike Beltran.’ I’ll defend those guys all day long no matter what they do. These are my boys.”
“This guy (Yamasaki), we don’t disagree when we meet with each other, but he cost me a lot of money, and it’s his fault I’m not a millionaire now – back to that one instance he should have stopped the fight and he didn’t (against Hughes). But that’s the way it goes. What he did on Saturday night, I’m totally OK with.”
Shevchenko won the fight against Cachoeira via second-round submission, along with $50,000 for Performance of the Night.