Veteran referee Mario Yamasaki has been involved in a few controversies, as of late. One was during the headliner fight between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee in Oklahoma last June, and another during the Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira fight in Belem, Brazil last February.
“I talked to (UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs) Marc Ratner at the UFC Performance Institute, and I threw a little quip out there about Yamasaki being here, and he was like ‘No, we’ll never see that guy in the Octagon again,’” Chiesa told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani in a UFC 223 pre-fight interview. “So, that’s good news.”
Yamasaki’s issue with the Chiesa-Lee fight was that it was put to a halt, despite claims from Chiesa that he did not tap from the rear-naked choke he was put in. Nonetheless, the win was awarded to Lee.
The more pressing concern, however, was that Yamasaki may have allowed Cachoeira to absorb way too many strikes from Shevchenko. Fight Metric stats later revealed that Cachoeira ate a total of 230 total strikes, 87 of those were to the head.
Chiesa was appalled by Yamasaki’s actions, but more on how the women’s flyweight fight was handled.
“Taking my issue with him aside, that guy’s gotta be out of the sport,” Chiesa said. “That was disgusting. A referee’s job is to protect the fighters, first and foremost. It’s not to enforce rules, it’s not for him to make judgment calls, or to ‘let somebody be a warrior’ or whatever the hell he said. Your job is to protect the fighters, and he did not do a good job at that, that night.”
“Who cares what happened to me? That girl seriously got hurt,” he continued. “She got a torn ACL. She got, what, 300 strikes to the head? That’s disgusting. That makes me sick to my stomach.”
Chiesa was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis this weekend at UFC 223. However, Conor McGregor’s media day bus attack left him with facial lacerations, which reportedly urged officials to scrap the matchup altogether.