Mario Yamasaki was the official inside the Octagon at UFC On Fox 24 when Robert Whittaker defeated Ronaldo Souza by second round TKO.
The famed MMA referee stopped the fight when Souza was scrambling back to his feet, which caused a small outrage in the MMA community.
"I re-watched the fight, but I know what I did there, I know what was going on,” Yamasaki told MMA Fighting. "I was the one in there. Watching on TV, people have a different image than the one I’m seeing in there, and I have to follow the rules. The rules say I have to protect the athlete, and when the fighter is not intelligently defending himself anymore, he’s on autopilot, it will only cause more damage."
Yamasaki has been officiating UFC fights since the days before the promotion was purchased by Zuffa.
Late stoppage or not, the longtime referee does care about the fighters and he doesn’t want to see them take any more damage than they have to.
"I talk to a lot of people about Gary Goodridge, Eder Jofre and (Adilson) ‘Maguila’, who suffer from dementia pugilistica, that people don’t know how dangerous is to get unnecessary punches. I’m following my ethic, and also the athletic commission. Everyone from the athletic commission praised me, but fans didn’t like it. They say I don’t like Brazilians, blah blah blah. I’m the referee, I have to follow the rules,” says Yamasaki.
This wasn’t the only controversy surrounding referee’s in the last few weeks, as Dan Miragliotta is still facing heat for his actions during the UFC 210 bout between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi.