King of the Ring

His word has been law inside the octagon for almost 25 years, during which time JOHN MCCARTHY has stamped his larger-than-life personality all over MMA, making the sport what it is today. Let’s get it on!

There are few more iconic figures in the sport of MMA than ‘Big’ John McCarthy. A former LA police officer, Big John turned Octagon enforcer, when he officiated his first fight at UFC 2: No Way Out back in 1994. Since that time he’s been in charge of some of UFC’s biggest contests and has become as integral to the sport as the Octagon itself.

A former Brazilian jiu-jitsu student under Rorion Gracie (founder of the UFC), it was his relationship with the Gracie Family that saw his career as a referee flourish after Rorion had advised him not to follow his original plan to compete. His role when he set out was more complex as there were few rules and he did not have the authority to stop fights. Swiftly, he realised this situation needed to change and he became heavily involved in drafting the Unified Rules of MMA and using his knowledge and experience to train others in the art of adjudication.

After 24 years (minus a short sabbatical to take part in TV presenting and commentating on The Fight Network) John will now take another step back from officiating in order to pursue his passion for commentating. He was recently appointed the new colour commentator for Bellator and will undoubtedly draw upon his encyclopedic knowledge of MMA to bring great expertise to his new position.

Congratulations to Lifetime Achievement Award winner, ‘Big’ John McCarthy. Although he is gone from the Octagon for now, we won’t forget his level-headed good humour and common sense, or indeed his booming catchphrase, “Let’s get it on!”