LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – “Big” John McCarthy has joined The Fight Network, North America’s only all-combat sports channel, in a full-time role as an on-air personality and strategic advisor. The announcement was made official moments ago during a live conference call in Las Vegas.
The world’s most instantly recognizable MMA referee is calling it a career in the ring and cage after 14 years. McCarthy will retire after officiating his 535th bout this Saturday night for “The Ultimate Fighter 6” Finale in Las Vegas.
“As I enter a new chapter in my life, I look forward to demonstrating my love and passion for the MMA world in my new role at The Fight Network,” said McCarthy. “It’s a perfect fit for me and I can’t wait to get started.”
A charismatic giant of the game, and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu himself, McCarthy is the most highly regarded authority and recognized historian on MMA. One of the original authors of the rules that govern MMA in the United States, his expertise and passionate advocacy of the sport has been instrumental in the legalization of MMA and the passage of MMA regulations in many states.
“John has been such a great referee for years that it is unfortunate he is retiring”, said Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “However, I am sure he will continue to play an important role in the sport of mixed martial arts, and that can only be a good thing.”
“Big John has become a preeminent personality in the game,” said George Burger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Fight Network, “and his presence and depth of knowledge will take our industry leading coverage of the sport to a new level, to everyone’s benefit. It is great to have him on the team.”
For the last 14 years, “Big” John McCarthy has been the world’s best-known and most sought-after MMA referee, a career that began with UFC 2 on March 11, 1994 in Denver, Colorado. McCarthy has refereed hundreds of bouts worldwide, including virtually every major UFC event and many of the sport’s great match-ups, including Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock I at UFC 40 in 2002, and Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 in March 2007. McCarthy has refereed exactly 100 championship fights.
For McCarthy, the path that led to The Fight Network started last spring when he signed on as a part-time MMA analyst for the growing combat sports network. When he confided to Fight Network founder and Senior Vice President Strategy, Mike Garrow, that he was looking for new opportunities to expand his involvement in the fight game, the network jumped on the opportunity to offer him a full-time position.
Commenting on the permanent involvement of McCarthy, Garrow said: “John brings tremendous profile to The Fight Network. Talented, dedicated and respected by fighters, promoters, state officials and, of course, fans everywhere, John is a consummate professional whose experience, knowledge and passion for MMA make him an invaluable addition to our team.”
Fans can see McCarthy on Before The Bell and After The Bell, two original Fight Network shows that air after major MMA events from around the world and on additional news and informational shows that will be created to showcase McCarthy’s vast knowledge and insight into the growing sport of MMA.