John McCarthy (referee)

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John McCarthy
McCarthy refereeing during MMA Attack 2 in Katowice, Poland
John Michael McCarthy

(1962-10-12) October 12, 1962 (age 61)
Other names"Big John McCarthy"
Occupation(s)MMA referee, podcast host, MMA analyst

John Michael McCarthy (born October 12, 1962) is a retired American mixed martial arts referee best known for officiating numerous bouts promoted by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), dating back to UFC 2.[1] He is credited as being one of the greatest and most recognizable referees in combat sports history and an important figure in the mixed martial arts world, helping create the Unified Rules of MMA after initially creating the original rule book of the UFC. He is currently a commentator for Bellator MMA and co-hosts the combat sports-based podcast "Weighing In" with former fighter Josh Thomson.[2][3]


McCarthy spent some time as an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department, retiring around 2008.[4]

In 1993, he became involved with the newly created Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighting tournament. He was the referee for UFC 2, launching a career as a UFC referee. The UFC initially started with very few rules, but McCarthy gave feedback that it was too dangerous and suggested additional rules, many of which were adopted. McCarthy would often start matches by saying "let's get it on" to the fighters, this became an iconic catchphrase that is associated with him and his refereeing.[4]

The nickname of "Big John" came about because of his size and stature. He stands 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weighs 265 lb (120 kg); making him larger than the majority of the athletes over whom he presides. According to a UFC interview, the nickname was given to him by UFC co-founder and promoter Art Davie. McCarthy recalls that the nickname began when he forcibly lifted Davie off the ground and held him in the air.[5]

In 2018, McCarthy retired from UFC refereeing, and moved to Bellator as a commentator.[6]


  • World MMA Awards
    • Referee of the Year (Three times; 2015, 2016 and 2017)[7][8][9]

Personal life[edit]

McCarthy has two sons and a daughter, one of whom has been an MMA judge since 2013.[10][11] McCarthy currently resides in Tennessee.[12]

Published work[edit]

On September 1, 2011, McCarthy's autobiography, Let's Get It On - The Making of MMA and its Ultimate Referee, was published.[13][14][15][16][17]

Film and television[edit]

McCarthy had a cameo appearance in the Friends episode, "The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion".

McCarthy also served as the referee on the MTV2 series Bully Beatdown, along with professional mixed martial artist Jason "Mayhem" Miller.[18]

McCarthy is featured in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary Fight Life, the film is directed by James Z. Feng and released in 2013.[19]

McCarthy appeared in Season 3b, Episode 5 of Entourage.

McCarthy appeared at the end of the film Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown.


  1. ^ "Refereed by John McCarthy | Tapology". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  2. ^ "WEIGHING IN". YouTube. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  3. ^ "WEIGHING IN". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "The man behind the catchphrase 'Let's get it on'". The Hamilton Spectator. 2011-06-16. ISSN 1189-9417. Retrieved 2022-05-16.
  5. ^ "100 fighter nickname origins". The Underground. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  6. ^ "Fightweets: Who got the best of UFC/Bellator announcing changes?". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  7. ^ Bryan Tucker (February 5, 2016). "World MMA Awards 2016 Results".
  8. ^ Bryan Tucker (March 2, 2017). "World MMA Awards 2017 Results".
  9. ^ Bryan Tucker (July 4, 2018). "World MMA Awards 2018 Results".
  10. ^ Farah Hannoun (March 20, 2020). "John McCarthy weighs in on judges' scoring criteria, applies it to Adesanya vs. Romero".
  11. ^ "Ron MCCARTHY".
  12. ^ "Weighing in Podcast #124". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  13. ^ Moles, Jason. "Interview: "Big" John McCarthy Talks His New Book, Dana White and Fighters Crapping Themselves". Cagepotato. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  14. ^ "MMAmania book review: Let's Get It On! by 'Big' John McCarthy". 30 August 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  15. ^ "Wrestling - [PODCAST] 411 MMA Interviews Big John McCarthy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  16. ^ "McCarthy: Refereeing 'a lot different than people think'". 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  17. ^ "'Big' John McCarthy New Book on MMA History". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  18. ^ "MTV Original TV Shows, Reality TV Shows | MTV". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  19. ^ "FIGHT LIFE - MMA Documentary by James Z. Feng". Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2015-11-25.

External links[edit]