In what has been a one-year layoff from reffing UFC fights, referee Mario Yamasaki is looking to make a return to the big stage. Yamasaki has not reffed in the UFC since being assigned to Valelntina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira at UFC Fight Night 125 in February of 2018. It was following that fight which was mercifully ended in the final minute of the second round, that saw Yamaski receive criticism for refusing to end the fight sooner, and that criticism came strongly from UFC President Dana White. Following the fight, White went on record to say that Yamaski would not referee another fight in the UFC.
In an exclusive interview with Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting, Yamaski spoke about being away from the UFC, what he’s done over the last year, and his hopes of being back in the UFC this year. Yamasaki told Cruz that part of why he stayed away from the UFC is because he didn’t want Dana White to continue coming after him.
“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. 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.”
Trying to help his effort to get back to the UFC, Yamaski said he that he has reached out to UFC’s Marc Ratner in order to see what it would take to get back to reffing fights in the UFC again. Despite the drama that followed the fight and shadowed him for the past year, Yamasaki says he has no bad feelings towards the UFC or Dana White.
“I was doing an overview of my career and I have nothing but good things to say about the UFC and everything that happened in my life, We never imagined that the sport would get to this point and I would get to this point.”
“Being in the UFC for 20 years, and jiu-jitsu and MMA before that. Dana has been good to me, despite other controversies. It’s 20 years, I started in the UFC before he did, and we always got along.”
Citing a few other questionable decisions and stoppages, Yamasaki has said that sometimes a lack of focus led to the controversy. While going into more detail about previous instances, Yamaski has seemingly taken complete ownership of those mistakes and now has made it clear that he’s willing to do what it takes to get back to the UFC, if they’re willing to have him again.