Big John McCarthy Speaker Profile
First Head Referee for the UFC
Big John McCarthy Biography
John McCarthy was born October 12, 1962, the 'Octagon's ninth side', is the former head referee for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a Los Angeles Police Officer, and a Tactical Self-Defense Instructor at the Los Angeles Police Academy. He formerly provided commentary and analysis for The Fight Network's coverage of UFC events. He also recently provided commentary for Affliction: Banned the first MMA event co-produced by Affliction Clothing and Adrenaline MMA.
McCarthy was the most senior referee in the UFC and is well-known for his delivery of "Let's get it on!". McCarthy served as referee for nearly every fight in the UFC from UFC 2 until UFC 31, and was considered as much a part of the UFC as the octagonal arena itself. His 535th and final bout was the main event at The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale in Las Vegas, Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida.
His connection to the UFC was attributed to his relationship with the Gracie family, particularly Rorion Gracie. McCarthy had been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Rorion at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA in the early 1990s, and was designated a certified "GRAPLE" (Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement) instructor by the Gracie Academy in December 1993.
When Rorion Gracie was putting together his new fighting promotion in 1993, McCarthy expressed interest in fighting for the UFC, but Gracie advised against it. However, due to his experience in law enforcement, McCarthy was seen as a fitting man to referee. He debuted at UFC 2: No Way Out in 1994.
The early days of UFC did not contain many rules; McCarthy's role was only to supervise the fight and to ensure that it ended promptly when a competitor either submitted (also known as tap out), was knocked out, or had his towel thrown in. Although first disfavored by UFC executives, referee stoppage eventually became a more prominent part of the UFC, and a referee's role now includes the stopping of fights when a fighter cannot intelligently defend himself.
McCarthy refereed almost every main card match in the UFC from UFC 2 until UFC 31, when the sport was sanctioned. When the UFC was sanctioned by the New Jersey and Nevada State Athletic Commissions in 2001, McCarthy served as referee for many matches, alongside Herb Dean, Steve Mazzagatti, and Mario Yamasaki.
Although retired as a referee for UFC events, he is a tactical instructor at the LAPD police academy and trains combat referees at REFS Academy (Ring Experienced Fight Specialists). On December 31, 2004, McCarthy served as the referee for a fight held on the K-1 Dynamite! card at the Osaka Dome in Osaka, Japan between MMA legend Royce Gracie and Sumo legend-turned-fighter Akebono Taro.
On December 7, 2007, McCarthy stated that he would retire as the UFC's head referee after officiating the Roger Huerta/Clay Guida match at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra Ultimate Finale card on December 8, 2007. He is now an analyst for The Fight Network's coverage of UFC events.
In early 2008, McCarthy started a referee and judging course for MMA officials called COMMAND (Certification of Officials for Mixed Martial Arts Development). COMMAND is the only nationally recognized training and certification program backed by the A.B.C.(Associations of Boxing Commissions) for mixed martial arts referees and judges.
On July 19, 2008, McCarthy's affiliation with UFC rival Affliction became public, as he provided fight commentary and post-fight interviews. McCarthy made his return to officiating MMA on November 21, 2008, at the event Strikeforce: Destruction.
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