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CABMMA issues statement on controversial UFC Belem co-main event

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Belem-Shevchenko vs Cachoeira
Mario Yamasaki was late to stop the fight after Priscila Cachoeira tapped.
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Mario Yamasaki admits that he could have stopped the UFC Belem co-main event a bit sooner, and the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission believes he most definitely should have.

Valentina Shevchenko mauled promotional newcomer Priscila Cachoeira for two rounds last Saturday, mercifully finishing the fight with under a minute to go in the round with a rear-naked choke. In a statement issued to MMA Fighting, CABMMA COO Cristiano Sampaio says he discussed the stoppage with Yamasaki directly afterwards.

Yamasaki told MMA Fighting in a separate statement on Monday night that he “allowed ‘Pedrita’ to be a warrior” in the bout, but Sampaio says that while “Cachoeira demonstrated toughness and heart during the two rounds, those are two attitudes that should not interfere or confuse the referee when it comes to stoppages.”

According to the commission, “it was clear that Priscilla could not defend herself efficiently nor technically.” Cachoeira, who suffered a serious knee injury in the early portion of the fight, made clear in a social media post that she would never give up on her own accord.

Check the full statement from the CABMMA official below.

The Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) has discussed the stoppage with referee Mario Yamasaki at the post-fight meeting held at venue with all of the officials assigned for the event. We made it clear all of our concerns regarding the incident.

Priscilla Cachoeira demonstrated toughness and heart during the two rounds but those are two attitudes that should not interfere or confuse the referee when it comes to stoppages. In the first round, in the last couple of minutes, it was clear that Priscilla could not defend herself efficiently nor technically. That reflected directly on the judges scores, all three giving it a 10-8. Round two was the same, but obviously with Priscilla not physically recovered enough from the previous round to demonstrate her chance against Valentina, the fight should have been called off right in the initial moments. And if the fight wasn’t called off, it would have been a clear 10-7, due to what we considered a overwhelming dominance and significant impact in the round.

As to the matchmaking, the fight was approved by CABMMA. If it was not well matched and that being evidently demonstrated during the fight, it should have been identified by the referee in charge, as he is the highest authority in that moment, whose role is to protect the fighter at all times including stopping the fight at the proper moment.

CABMMA understands that errors can occur from all aspects, but they should be recognized and corrected, to avoid similar cases in the future. And in a sport where the main concern is the fighter’s health and integrity, from the regulator’s standpoint we should do everything possible to minimize the risk of a scenario such as the one of this weekend.

Mario Yamasaki has been one of the best referees in MMA for the past decade and played a key role in helping our commission build the team of officials. We will discuss the next steps together and decide what is certainly best for all parts involved in the process.