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Big John McCarthy will return as a athletic commission official for the Zuffa ran WEC 46 event in Sacramento on Jan 10th. The longtime referee was a iconic figure at UFC events, before being blacklisted in Nevada for negative statements about the athletic commision and Zuffa.
One stipulation, Big John will not enter the cage as a referee, but instead sit on the outside as a judge.
“The California State Athletic Commission today released its list of assignments for the Jan. 10 WEC show in Sacramento, and there’s a surprising name on the list: popular long-time referee “Big” John McCarthy has been assigned to the show. Even more surprising is the news that McCarthy has not been assigned as a referee for the show, but as a judge. [Chron]”
When legendary UFC Referee Big John McCarthy left refereeing, he might have burnt a few bridges on his way out of town. McCarthy criticized the Athletic Commissions for putting people in place that had no experience in the sport. This is what he said it 2008,
“I have a problem when you have an official who is put into place to have an impact on the sport I love when they don’t understand the sport, when they don’t understand what the fighters are doing. They understand someone getting hit in the face. They don’t understand the manipulations of the ground game and who is winning the fight. I probably should’ve shut my mouth because I’ve got a big mouth, and it’s got me in a lot of trouble, but it’s the truth. I want everyone to understand what is really happening in the sport so they can make educated decisions and judgments.” [Sherdog]
McCarthy applied for a referee license in the state of Nevada on Sept. 10th, but not approved. Here’s what Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) had to say,
“We keep our list very short … mainly because we want to keep people busy. We probably have about 20 cards a year. Some states may have 100 people licensed, but how often can they work? You want to have enough work for [referees]. It’s very important that the ref, doctor and inspectors communicate during a fight.”
“No one’s been turned down [for a license] … He’s applied, and he’s in the file with other applicants.”
While the NSAC is well within their rights to not license Big John, its hard as a fan, to think that Nevada is just “being fair” by not bring back a true veteran referee who has loyally served their commission for so many years.