John McCarthy Returns as Referee

John McCarthy. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The most well-known referee in the history of mixed martial arts is set to return to the profession that saw him officiate over 500 fights over a 15-year-career. The California State Athletic Commission has assigned “Big” John McCarthy to referee selected bouts at Strikeforce’s “Destruction” event on November 21 in San Jose according to

“I missed doing it,” McCarthy said referring to his days as a referee to “Sometimes when you walk away from something and you think it’s time, once you’re away you realize what you’re missing –- it’s kind of like why guys come back to fighting. It’s what I like doing. It’s what I was meant to do.”

McCarthy abruptly retired after officiating a lightweight main event between Roger Huerta and Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale in December of last year to take a full-time position as an analyst with The Fight Network, which he resigned from last month amidst claims of improper management of the company.

“Well this is my farewell from the Fight Network,” McCarthy said in an October 7 blog post. “While I will not miss what has happened or transpired at the company, I am really going to miss some very special people that I have come to know and respect in my short time with them. To all of the higher ups that have taken over The Fight Network over the last year I only have this to say….shame on you.”

McCarthy has reportedly had his officiating license renewed in the states of California and Ohio as well as the the River Cree Indian Reservation near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He will also continue to hold seminars for interested mixed martial arts referees under the watch of the Association of Boxing Commissions as well.

No word as of yet concerning whether or not McCarthy plans to apply for a referee’s license in the state of Nevada to potentially oversee some of the fights taking place on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s upcoming shows in Las Vegas later this year.


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