RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 14: Erick Silva (Top) punches Carlo Prater as referee Mario Yamasaki (R) calls the welterweight bout during UFC 142 at HSBC Arena on January 14, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
When his original opponent, Aghan prospect Siyar Bahadurzada, pulled out with an injury, it was expected that rising Brazilian welterweight star Erick Silva would be given an opportunity to showcase his immense talents last night (January 14, 2011) against an experienced but considerably less dangerous foe on the UFC 142 main card.
Things seemed to be going according to plan in his fight against Carlo Prater when Silva blitzed him with a ferocious early onslaught and seemingly had beat the 40 second mark he set in his equally awe-inspiring Octagon debut at UFC 134 last August.
Instead, controversy loomed as referee Mario Yamasaki ruled Silva's hammer fists had been illegal and instead of scoring another tremendous victory, Silva was disqualified.
So what in the world happened? What went wrong? And what's next for both welterweights?
After an extremely brief feeling out process, Silva exploded forward with a short combination. When Prater ducked down to escape the punches, Silva crushed him with a thundering left knee to the torso.
Prater tried to hang on to a single leg takedown for dear life, but Silva responded with repeated hammer fists to the side of the head and apparently a couple to the back of the head. Watching the replay of the fight, you can clearly hear Yamasaki warning about back of the head, but then Silva switched to right punches to the side of the head before the ref stepped in and stopped the fight.
The young Brazilian celebrated wildly and excitedly in the cage, but he was unfortunately about to hear some bad news as the referee had ruled that his warnings had been ignored and Silva would be disqualified for blows to the back of the head.
The look of dejection on Silva's face was incredibly depressing.
On further review, Silva may have landed a shot or two to the back of the head. It's a hazy area in the rules in which some referees use the "mohawk" rule for illegal shots to the back of the head while others use the "earmuffs" rule.
One thing for certain is that Mario Yamasaki failed to follow protocol. If he views an illegal blow is affecting a fighter, he should call time, stop the action and give the opponent an opportunity to recover. That's what happens after knees to a downed opponent, kicks to the groin or accidental eye pokes. Hell, that's exactly what happened with Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut against Frank Mir with shots to the back of the head.
Instead, though, Yamasaki stopped the fight, actually proclaiming it was over and then punished Slva after the fact. That's not how it's supposed to happen. If Yamasaki thought some illegal strikes had landed, he should have called time and given Prater five minutes to recover. This was a complete screw up on all accounts.
For Carlo Prater, he didn't get an opportunity to do anything as Silva nailed him with a knee to the body and follow-up strikes. Hopefully he gets an opponent further down the ladder in the UFC welterweight division despite his "win." Someone along the lines of Rich Attonito, Carlos Eduardo Rocha or perhaps Dan Hardy would make sense as potential future oppoents.
For Erick Silva, he's got to be devastated. He surpassed his UFC debut only to have victory taken away from my by some questionable refereeing. Hopefully this doesn't affect his killer instinct in fights as he's quickly built a reputation as a big time rising star to watch in the division. Despite the setback, in which he was still awarded his win bonus, he should continue to be given more difficult opponents at 170 pounds.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did referee Mario Yamasaki blow this one big time? What would you have done if you had been in his position?