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Add longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan to the list of people who thought referee Mario Yamasaki botched his duty to ensure fighter safety at UFC Fight Night 125.
Yamasaki has come under fire since Saturday night, when he allowed former UFC bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) to put a prolonged beating on newcomer Priscila Cachoeira (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) before locking in a second-round submission to end the flyweight bout, which took place at Mangueirinho Gymnasium in Belem, Para, Brazil.
Since fight night, the circumstances around the ending of the bout have caused a hot debate. UFC President Dana White ripped Yamasaki on Instagram, while the Brazil commission which sanctioned the event also admitted the veteran referee did not do his job at an acceptable standard. Yamasaki has also publicly defended himself in the form of an official statement.
Rogan addressed the matter on today’s “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast with guest Cameron Hanes, and like many others, he believes Yamasaki had numerous chances to wave off the contest due to strikes before Shevchenko ended it with the rear-naked choke.
“Mario Yamasaki said he gave her the opportunity to, ‘Be a warrior,’” Rogan said. “That’s what he said. That was his take on it. I mean, not just beat up. Did you see the stats? The actual physical striking stats? It was some unbelievably overwhelming number, like one vs. several hundred, in the significant strike department. Like literally, she landed one decent punch.
“They should have stopped that fight a long time ago. That fight should have been stopped 15 or 20 times.”
Yamasaki hasn’t been the only person to receive blame in the wake of the controversial fight. Cachoeira’s corner has received criticism for not protecting its fighter by throwing in the towel, as have UFC matchmakers for booking such a lopsided affair.
Rogan agreed it was a disservice to Cachoeira to put her in the octagon with an opponent of Shevchenko’s caliber.
“It was a bad matchup, because that girl, I believe it was her UFC debut,” Rogan said “To have a UFC debut, to have a woman that’s fought for the title and is a world-class striker, I mean literally one of the very-best strikers on the planet earth – male or female – it’s just not fair.”
Although most of the post-fight discussion has revolved around the nature of the bout, Shevchenko’s dominance was what ultimately sparked the conversation. After narrowly losing a bantamweight title fight to Amanda Nunes at UFC 215 in September, “Bullet” dropped to the women’s 125-pound division and looked as sharp as ever.
Rogan made sure to spotlight the level of Shevchenko’s ability.
“Valentina is one of the most well-rounded women in the sport,” Rogan said. “She subbed Julianna Pena off her back, she stands up and out-strikes Holly Holm. She went toe-to-toe with Amanda Nunes, she went toe-to-toe with some of the best kickboxers in the world. She’s a world champion muay Thai fighter. She’s just a (expletive) beast. She’s an all-around just bad-ass fighter.”
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