Referee Breaks Silence On UFC Controversy, UFC 221 Free Fight, Yushin Okami Changing Divisions

- Yoel Romero served notice in the UFC's middleweight division when he defeated former champion Chris Weidman back in 2016 at UFC 205. This Saturday night at UFC 221, Romero takes on Luke Rockhold for the interim title from Perth, Western Australia live on pay-per-view.

Romero, who won silver at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, ran his MMA record to 12-1 with the third round finish over Weidman that came via flying knee. He would go on to fall to Robert Whittaker for the interim title last July.

UFC 221 also features Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker, Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang and Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov. Wrestling Inc. will have coverage of Saturday's card live and free.

- Veteran referee Mario Yamasaki came under fire for his decision to let this past Saturday's co-main event at UFC Fight Night 125 between Valentina Shevchenko and Prisicilia Cachoeira longer than he should have. Yamasaki has responded to the criticism in a statement provided to MMAjunkie.

"In the second round, I signaled to 'Pedrita' that if she didn't move I'd stop the bout." Yamasaki said. "Every time I went to stop it, I signaled it to her, and she moved in an attempt to escape the blows. Unfortunately, I also can't control the number of strikes that are thrown. Again, while she's looking for a turnaround, she's in the game. Fighters go through periods of great effort and dedication in order to be there. MMA is a contact sport, and no fighter likes to have the fight interrupted without a chance to reverse the outcome.

"The way I see it, I allowed 'Pedrita' to be a warrior and keep fighting. I could have stopped the fight in the second crucifix or in the mount, but she was moving at all times. I also recognize I should have stopped it on the first tap of the rear-naked choke, and I only stopped a few seconds later. As for other people's opinions, they (again) have their right to issue them."

Cachoeira, who suffered a torn ACL and meniscus early in the first round before being submitted in the second, posted on Instagram that "those on the outside don't know anything to criticize it. No one can say how (Yamasaki's) supposed to treat me. Throwing the towel, never."

- Former UFC middleweight title contender Yushin Okami will compete in the welterweight division next, as he faces Dhiego Lima at UFC on FOX 29. The bout takes place April 14 from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Okami (34-11) returned to the Octagon to face Ovince Saint Preux on short notice earlier this year in a light heavyweight contest. He suffered a submission loss, falling to 13-6 overall in the UFC. Lima, the brother of former Bellator champion Douglas Lima, is 12-6 overall and a former finalist on The Ultimate Fighter. He has gone just 1-4 inside the Octagon.

UFC on FOX 29 features Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier and Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit.

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