A fellow MMA referee decided to share his thoughts on the latest controversy involving late stoppages in the UFC. Seasoned ref Mario Yamasaki weighed in on Herb Dean’s call in the Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jai Herbert lightweight fight from last Saturday, at UFC Fight Island 3.
In an interview with Ag Fight, Yamasaki shared the same thoughts as most pundits, saying that it looked like a late stoppage on TV. However, from his experience, Mario knows how difficult the job can be at times.
After refereeing hundreds of fights in his day, Mario prefers not to judge Dean’s actions. He is willing to criticize someone else on that night, though: retired fighter and commentator Dan Hardy, who confronted Dean on his call right when it happened. In Yamasaki’s opinion, the ‘Outlaw’ could have saved his criticism for a private conversation later on.
“From my TV, it seemed like it could have been stopped sooner, but only the ones in there know what is like. He’s in the eye of the hurricane. He’s watching everything closely, a fighter’s reactions, their eyes. It’s hard to tell. He saw things we didn’t. As for Hardy, he should have been a little classier and not have confronted him right there. They were staying at the same hotel, he could have waited to talk to him. I don’t care, because I get focused and I don’t let comments affect me. But it could affect (a referee’s) performance.”
Infamously known for late calls criticism himself, Yamasaki spent years calling fights for major MMA promotions, especially the UFC. However, ever since February 2018, Mario has been away from the Octagon. At the time, he was responsible for allowing Priscila Cachoeira to take a beating much longer than necessary, when she met Valentina Shevchenko at UFC Belem.
Yamasaki believes he was purposefully persecuted because of his performance on that night, but tries to not let that get under his skin. Ever since the incident, the Brazilian Mixed Martial Arts Athletic Commission never called Mario again to referee fights, which he believes is directly linked to the event and all the criticism it generated.
“Fighters suffer the same kind of discrimination. But in my case, it was meant to cause controversy and sell more pay per view packages. It’s no use crying about it, but I’m not worried. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I’ve been through it all. I even used to be their sweetheart at one point. Maybe the Athletic Commission was unfair to me, because they gave in to the UFC’s will. They’re the ones who hire me, not the UFC. In theory, the UFC can’t stop me.”
Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, Yamasaki says his return to officiating is delayed, but remains open to any invitations to ref again, should any come his way. In the meantime, Mario makes a living running a chain of gyms in Brazil, which is his main source of income.