Mario Yamasaki has not refereed a UFC fight since he came under fire for failing to put an end to Valentina Shevchenko’s brutal beatdown of Priscila Cachoeira in February of 2018.
Speaking to MMA Fighting this week, the veteran referee discussed his hiatus from officiating. While he’s been keen to stay out of the blast radius of UFC President Dana White’s verbal assaults, he say’s he’s now plotting a return to the cage.
”I ended up focusing on other jobs and didn’t apply to any athletic commission after that fight because Dana would keep coming after me,” Yamasaki said. “I decided to take a year off to relax and reset. I think I’ll apply to an athletic commission again this year and come back after relaxing for a year.”
In his interview with MMA Fighting, Mario Yamasaki also admitted that he made an error by allowing Shevchenko’s destruction of Cachoeira to go on for so long. He says he could have stopped the fight earlier.
”I think I really could have stopped it earlier,” he said. “It was a mistake.”
After this controversial fight, Mario Yamasaki issued a lengthy statement, explaining that he only wanted to give Cachoeira the opportunity to be a warrior. This comment was not well-received by the MMA community.
A year after the fact, he says he believes this statement was misunderstood.
”I was misinterpreted because, first, I had a public relations that asked me to say that, but it’s not what I really meant,” Yamasaki said. “I told ‘Pedrita’ in the locker room that I wouldn’t stop the fight if she was defending herself. She moved every time I said I was going to stop the fight, but I really should have stopped it earlier so it wouldn’t have [been] controversial. It was no one else’s fault but me.”
As he prepares to begin officiating again, Mario Yamasaki understands that he might always be remembered for his errors instead of his successes.
“People always tend to remember the bad moments. If that’s the case, what can I do? It’s like saying Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort — will people remember him for the kick to the face or his entire career? It depends on who you ask.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/28/2019.