Controversial mixed martial arts referee Mario Yamasaki has outlined his plans to return to officiating the sport in 2021.
Yamasaki has not worked as a referee since February of 2018, when he was on duty for a Fight Night in Belem, Brazil. He was the subject of much controversy that night, after he allowed Priscila Cachoeira to sustain far more punishment that most viewers deemed necessary in a fight with future UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
While Yamasaki has been out of the MMA spotlight since then, he plans to change that this year.
“I’m waiting for the pandemic to be over so I start applying to the athletic commissions again,” Yamasaki told MMA Fighting, adding that he plans to enrol in an online judging course promoted by the California State Athletic Commission so he’s able to catch up on everything that’s changed during his hiatus.
“I’ll go back to refereeing as soon as possible,” he added. “Maybe not in the UFC, but Bellator, PFL, Shooto, other promotions, so I can be in the sport. It will be up to the athletic commissions to accept me back and license me and start giving me fights to referee.”
Unfortunately, Yamasaki had endured several firestorms before his officiating in the Shevchenko vs. Cachoeira fight. On more than one occasion, he found himself of the crosshairs of an ornery Dana White.
While Yamasaki is certainly not White’s favorite referee, he says he feels no ill-will toward the UFC President, and his grateful to have served as an referee in the Octagon.
“The UFC has given me everything I have in terms of exposure, travels and all my knowledge,” Yamasaki said. “I lived through the pinnacle of MMA, the golden era. Only joy. I have nothing to complain, only to thank. Twenty years there, it’s not for everyone.”
Do you think we’ll see Mario Yamasaki back in the cage with the sport’s biggest stars in the future?