1. #1
    elipson's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
    BC, Canada
    BJJ, mma

    Big John refused refs license by Nevada state Athletic Commision


    Tuesday, September 22, 2009
    by Jason Probst ([email protected])

    Veteran referee “Big” John McCarthy has not been issued a license to officiate events in Nevada after applying with the state’s athletic commission earlier this month.

    In a mailed letter from Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, McCarthy, who submitted his application Sept. 10, was informed that the state “[does] not anticipate adding any additional referees at this time. We will place your application in the pending file in case the situation changes.”

    McCarthy, who has refereed nearly 600 MMA events worldwide since UFC 2 in March 1994, would seem a welcome addition to any commission staff, but the iconic referee said he applied with no expectations.

    “I don’t look at it like that. A license to referee or judge with an athletic commission -- it’s not a right,” he said. “It’s a privilege. Everyone kept bringing up the fact that I wasn’t licensed in Nevada, so I said, ‘Alright, I’ll apply.’”

    McCarthy retired from officiating in December 2007 to pursue a career in broadcasting. After various stints with The Fight Network and then as a commentator for Affliction Entertainment’s first event, McCarthy’s absence from the sport’s flagship promotion stood in stark contrast to the game’s early days, when he refereed virtually every main event from 1994-2001.

    McCarthy left the network in September 2008, citing breach of contract. He was re-licensed in California, his home state, and has maintained licenses in Ohio, Utah and jurisdictions in Canada. He returned to the role he originated in the U.S. at a Strikeforce event last November.

    In recent years, MMA officiating has been scrutinized often, with discussions ranging from the timing of referee stoppages to judging scores. Nevada officiating, where a majority of the higher profile UFC events take place, has not been excluded and often highlighted.

    In particular, McCarthy was often asked to draw upon his 15-plus years as a referee in his various broadcasting positions when commenting on his former colleagues’ performances.

    In October 2008, Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole addressed a reader question in a mailbag about whether or not McCarthy’s comments on officiating had him on the outs with the NSAC. Iole wrote “... a little birdie tells me Kizer, one of the sport’s most influential regulators, is none too pleased with McCarthy these days for criticisms McCarthy delivered of him. It’s not to say that it’s impossible, but he’s got a long road ahead of him.”

    In a March interview with Sherdog.com, McCarthy stressed that his issues were not with the UFC, nor personally aimed at Kizer and the NSAC.

    “I had a criticism toward people being put into place as far as officiating,” said McCarthy. “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.”

    When asked if Iole’s characterizations held water, Kizer replied via email: “I do not know who Kevin’s ‘little birdie’ is, and would no more speak for Kevin than I would for you. However, I can tell you I have always appreciated constructive and/or truthful criticism, regardless of source.”

    White, who criticized McCarthy and his involvement with rival promotion Affliction, was surprised by the NSAC’s decision.

    “Wow. That is my reaction,” said White. “Having a license is a privilege, and John said a lot of s--t about the Nevada commission and other commissions.”

    Asked if McCarthy’s past comments or a perceived animosity felt for McCarthy by the UFC over his Affliction gig may have played a role in his application for a Nevada license being placed in the “pending” file, both Kizer and McCarthy declined comment.

    Kizer said the NSAC currently has six referees licensed to work MMA fights, with a current “pending” list of 20-30 applicants vying for an opening in one of those existing slots, most of which will never work in Nevada due to the high qualifications demanded and extreme rarity of an opening. The short list is exactly that, he adds, so qualified referees get enough work to stay sharp.

    “We keep our list very short,” Kizer said of the existing list of approved MMA refs, “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.”

    Given the existing list of six licensed referees and numerous applicants, Kizer could not say when an opening would materialize.

    “No one’s been turned down [for a license],” said Kizer. “He’s applied, and he’s in the file with other applicants.”

    Since taking the job as NSAC executive director in 2006, Kizer said two referees have been added to the state’s list of licensed MMA referees.

    White was noncommittal as to whether or not the UFC would have an issue with McCarthy working its U.K. shows. There, the promotion assigns its own referees in the absence of regulatory agencies.

    “I don’t know. I just don’t know,” said White. “I would never say never, but …”

    However, it appears some are anxious to see the 6-foot-2 referee return to the Octagon. In recent weeks, fans have organized campaigns -- some sent directly to White’s Twitter account -- asking that McCarthy be utilized at UFC 104 on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.

    McCarthy, who had extensive involvement with drafting and shaping the unified rules that now govern most of the sport, said his time away from refereeing helped him realize how much he loved the job, one for which he literally built the template through the sport’s early days. Nevada or not, he’s glad to be back in the mix, wherever he can work.

    “I just keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m a very busy person. I have no problems with anybody in Nevada. I think the most important thing is you’ve got to be someone who’s honest and has integrity. Don’t be influenced by outside things, what fans are saying. You let the fighters do their thing. They’re the ones that should be deciding the fight.

    “When you do your job right as a referee, there’s not gonna be a lot of people saying things,” continued McCarthy. “The sport is growing; the officiating is having to grow with it. The whole reason I’m [back] reffing is because it’s what I love to do, and I’m going to enjoy doing what I’m doing.”
    Nevada..... *facepalm*

    I can't seriously understand the logic behind their position.

  2. #2
    I am a Ninja bitches!! Deal with it Join us... or die
    Goju - Joe's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    Improv comedy
    What does BJM know about reffing MMA, I mean he invented it and all but still

  3. #3
    hpr's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Sounds like somebody has their panties in a twist. The question is, commission or Zuffa?
    Curiosity killed the cat. But damn it had a blast.

  4. #4
    solves problems with violence supporting member
    Ming Loyalist's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
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    sounds like typical las vegas "you'll never work in this town again!" bullshit to me.
    "Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
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  5. #5
    G-Off's Avatar
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    State College, PA
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    Pure fucking politics. Pathetic.

  6. #6
    Fasten your seat belts, and prepare for lift off
    DKJr's Avatar
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    What the hell, Big John is the best ref and he's absolutely right about the judges. This kinda political bullshit is what limits the sports growth.

  7. #7
    3moose1's Avatar
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    "you're OVER qualified for this position, that's why we're letting you go. It has nothing to do with you nailing my wife, I promise"

    PROOF that I'm not a completely useless poster:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cy Q. Faunce
    3moose1 is correct. Sig THAT, you fucker.

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    I went out with a delightful young woman who was on a regimen of pills that made her taste of burned onions.
    That is not conducive to passionate cunnilingus, my friend, let me assure you.
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    I agree with moosey

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Uppsala, Sweden
    FMA, MT & BJJ
    Just playing devils advocate for a bit. Big John left his job as a ref, Nevada wants to keep a limited number of refs licensed and they replaced him when he left. So Big John changes his mind and wants back in, but now his position is filled and the NSAC puts his name on the applicants list. Like most jobs, if you leave you are not guaranteed a job if you change your mind, especially if you were very critical of your employer while you were gone.

    I agree that sometimes the judging can be a bit iffy, and there have been bad calls by refs. But most of the time they do a good job. I can totally see why the NSAC may be pissed at Big John over his comments, they probably feel that they are doing all they can. There is also the fact that Big John, rather than working with the NSAC to rectify these problems, complained about them in the media.

    As to DW comments. Well, we all know that Dana can be a hothaed and sometimes a bit of a douche. But who knows what words may have been exchanged between the two when Big John left the UFC and started working with Affliction. Dana may have felt betrayed by a ref he seemed to have a good working relationship with, and Dana would probably have said all the things he usually says when something ticks him off. From there it could easily have spiraled out of control.

    He is right in saying that a refs license is a privilege though, and if your prospective employer feels that he cannot trust you, for some reason, then it is within his rights to not hire you.

    I totally agree that Big John is the best ref MMA has ever had, and I hope that they work it out. The fact remains that Big John left and then badmouthed (justifiable or not) other refs and the judging.


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