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Mario Yamasaki considers retiring from MMA refereeing: ‘I’m not sure if I’m coming back’

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Referee Mario Yamasaki could be ready to retire from officiating MMA fights after more than 20 years in the sport.

Mario Yamasaki’s last UFC appearance was in February 2018.
Mario Yamasaki’s last UFC appearance was in February 2018.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

One of the most well-known MMA referees in the business might not be returning to the cages anymore. After a forced hiatus following his infamous performance at UFC Belem in February 2018, when Valentina Shevchenko dished out a lot of unnecessary damage on Priscila Cachoeira, Mario Yamasaki is now considering retirement from officiating.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Yamasaki explained that both the pandemic and his other businesses are the main factors behind his potential retirement. Although Mario guarantees he would return should the UFC offer him a second chance, he understand the chance of that happening is slim.

“After the pandemic, I didn’t pursue that (calling fights) anymore,” Yamasaki said. “I don’t think I’m coming back this year. I’m not sure if I’m coming back to calling fights at all. Nobody knows the future. For now, I’m sidelined and with no perspective of working for the UFC again. MMA was never my main job, I have a construction company. I buy, remodel houses. I work with big companies.

“MMA was always a hobby to me,” Mario continued, “A nice hobby, and of course I’d come back if they gave me a chance. I would come back next year, no doubt. I dedicated 20 years to the UFC. Not anyone will do that. I did what I had to do. Many trips, they opened the door to so many opportunities for me. It was excellent.”

Over his UFC career, Yamasaki was responsible for calling some of the biggest fights in the promotion, such as Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture at UFC 91 and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate at UFC 168, among several others.