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Is it time for Keith Kizer to approve Big John McCarthy back into the fold?

By Zach Arnold | August 20, 2009

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We know that UFC has been vocal about certain referees they like and don’t like (Steve Mazzagatti being one of them), so it’s obvious that when you’re the top promoter in your sport you have a lot of political power because of your financial clout.

We also know that Keith Kizer has not always had the most glowing opinion of Big John McCarthy, a reason perhaps as to why McCarthy isn’t officiating in Nevada. Given the shaky referee work that we’ve seen in 2009 in MMA, is it time for Keith Kizer to publicly endorse or embrace bringing back Big John McCarthy as a referee in Nevada for MMA events?

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

20 Responses to “Is it time for Keith Kizer to approve Big John McCarthy back into the fold?”

  1. Mike says:

    yes, it is. the most experienced ref should be officiating in nevada, where the majority of mma events take place.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Has John McCarthy actually applied for a license in NV?

    And I actually agree with Kizer on this one, and it’s not even a UFC vs. McCarthy issue.

    Kizer’s point is that referee’s have to be careful what they say in public. I completely agree. John McCarthy at one time was vocal against the UFC. How is any athletic commission going to put him in a UFC fight now? If something weird happens, people can go back to his comments, and a huge scandal could develop.

    Refs need to be silent. We cannot know who their favorite fighters are. We cannot know what organizations they like and dislike. It’s that simple. The less we publicly know about them, the better.

    McCarthy screwed McCarthy here. Nobody else.

  3. Dave says:

    Look, I try not to be an asshole on here and stay peaceful, but jesus fucking CHRIST, 45. Your act has its limits, my good man.

    “Refs need to be silent.”

    I’m sorry, I know they are supposed to be impartial, but not all the time. They are human beings with rights like every other American citizen. If somebody interviews a ref and they say, “You know, so and so was a dick and hard to work with” it means nothing. You can professionally work with somebody or a company you are not fond of while still harboring feelings against them.

    I daily work with companies that produce mass murder weapons, you know, missles, “aerospace” and so forth. So what? Just because I feel strongly against what they do does not prevent me from having a productive business relationship with them.

  4. Mark says:

    How can anyone hate John McCarthy? It’s like hating Santa Claus.

    Agreed that everyone should be entitled to their opinions. 45 is insane or just laying heavy on his usual trolling if he thinks McCarthy is unprofessional enough to start screwing fighters just because he doesn’t get along with Dana. He’s the last guy to be paranoid about being a super double secret agent working for Strikeforce to kill off the UFC by stopping fights early. Get a grip on reality, sir.

  5. Fluyid says:

    Interesting area of discussion.

    I happen to know (from personal discussions and experience) of another state commission (not Nevada) that the UFC comes to, and this other state allows the UFC to dictate to them who the officials will be. For other events within this state, the commission assigns the officials according to some process, but for the UFC cards they allow the UFC to dictate who all of the officials will be.

    I’m not sure how I feel about this.

  6. Dave says:

    If the commissions bend to UFC’s will on officials you have to figure they are bending their will on other issues we aren’t seeing, either, which is not good for anybody.

  7. Fluyid says:

    I agree with you, but on the other hand, the UFC brings officials with them who presumably are more qualified and better than the guys the commission may have on tap and due to officiate pursuant to the commission’s rotation.

    It does indeed seem like a bad thing for a commission to simply bend to a promotion’s wishes, though.

  8. jr says:

    Like the Lord Acton quote All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The UFC shouldn’t be able to hand pick refs.

  9. Dave says:

    I think a company should be able to veto a certain ref for certain fights. Like for example, you have a big title fight against two heavy hitters and the media will be paying close attention. You don’t want Mazzagatti or Yves Lavigne, you want Mario Yamazaki because he is better at judging KO situations. That is fine in my book, because you are promoting the fight and a ref with a history could mess things up.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    I’m actually surprised I’m taking crap for my opinion on this topic. Didn’t think my post would….

    I don’t think John McCarthy is a bad guy at all. You just have to look at it from the Athletic Commission’s point of view.

    1. McCarthy has publicly made negative comments about the largest company in the sport he refs about.

    2. He then was a commentator for another company, who happened to be their competitor.

    This shows he is impartial already. Don’t get me wrong, no ref is perfect. But they can’t let their voice be heard so it can be used against them, which is what John McCarthy certainly did.

    And yes, he is only human, but he also has to realize his actions have consequences. He is absolutely free to do as many interviews as he wants. And the NSAC is absolutely free to not have him as one of their refs for what he has said in an interview or done in his career.

    Baseball umpires are usually very silent. I can’t remember the last time I have read a quote from a baseball umpire, even after a real fiasco. It sometimes happens at a post game press conference in the playoffs, but that is rare.

    At the end of the day, refs or umpires are supposed to be basically invisible. If they do their job right, they shouldn’t even be in the discussion of what is happening in their sport.

    Doing interviews and being a commentatory makes your opinion heard. Kind of like trying to watch a Tom Cruise movie and seeing him as the character he is playing and not Cruise the crazy religion guy. It takes away from the performance. This is why refs need to be silent for the most part. The sport is about the athletes, not the refs.

  11. Mark says:

    I don’t have a problem with a MMA promotion choosing refs now because right now we’re still in that inbetween stage where because MMA is fairly new we have people signing on to ref who have no idea what they’re doing, so the more those idiots get turned down for work the better. But in a few years I think we’ll weed out the bandwagon refs and others will have enough experience to be good, so it won’t matter.

    But, that’s just for refusing to work with them because you don’t like something they did (like Dan Mirgliotta’s actions in the Kimbo-Thompson fight or that one Florida referee who was zoning out on that Fight Night earlier this year.) Their personal opinions holding them back, especially when they were semi-retired from refereeing like John was he made the comments, is absurd. All of the refs are probably big MMA fans who have favorite fighters or have an opinion on who will win the fight going in, they’re not robots. Just because McCarthy said something about a fighter doesn’t mean he’s going to be any more biased in his favor than Mario Yamasaki would be.

  12. Shane says:

    From the linked Sherdog article:

    “As it stands, McCarthy does not have a license to officiate in Nevada and has not yet applied for one since leaving his on-air role as analyst for the Fight Network.”

    It’s a bit difficult for Kizer to approve McCarthy as a referee if McCarthy hasn’t bothered to re-apply for a licence yet…

  13. Dave says:

    Yeah, so it is on Big John, then.

    I think it is safe to say that it would be great for everybody to see him reffing again.

  14. The Gaijin says:

    Just another case of Dana taking his ball and going home because he doesn’t like someone who stood up for him or doesn’t tow the company line. He’s shown a willingness to patch things up with people that caused far more “Dana drama” so I think they’ll bury the hatchet sometime soon – esp given the state of refereeing. I mean c’mon he can’t with a straight face argue that he wants/is getting better refs than BJM.

    As for 45’s inane comments (is anyone really truly surprised? I don’t know why anyone bothers getting riled up by a know Zuffa astroturfing, sycophant who would side with Dana against the 2nd coming of Christ or turn on anyone in a second who dares cross mother Zuffa) – what exactly is their concern/issue with him reffing? It’s two company fighters, how would he possibly have some bias or opposing interest? They already have lots of questionable stoppages and judging decisions. The sole issue I could possibly see and you’d have to be a 9-11 Truther level conspiracy nut, would be if there was some inter-promotional fight they thought he’d sway. And that would destroy his career, name and credibility and probably have him before a grand jury – so I see little in it for him. But I guess it makes for cute and empty arguments like 45 and his ilk.

  15. Steve4192 says:

    I’d love to see Big John back in the Octagon, but he has no one to blame but himself. He needs to get off his butt and apply for license.

    For all we know, Kizer might just rubber stamp it and have him working the UFC card. Or he might reject it out of hand. Either way, filing the application will provide him with some idea of what his next step should be. Doing nothing and then whining about it to the press does nothing but make the situation worse.

  16. Rob Maysey says:

    The irony of BJM getting criticism for doing interviews and making public comments.

    Has any athletic commissioner sought out the spotlight more, or done more interviews than Keith Kizer? Kizer also frequent one particular message board, and posts as well.

  17. Actually I don’t see the problem with the UFC criticizing referees. It’s the only way to make sure the commission knows about it and starts to improve the refs.

    On the other hand I see a big problem with commentators like Joe Rogan doing something like that DURING the boradcast. Remember the Akiyama vs. Belcher fight. I was totally shocked how biased he not only commentated for Belcher but also claimed that Belcher got robbed. THIS should have been a big issue in the press.

    The best way to improve the refs is to have them judge more fights. And with every mistake made the commission has more material to educate their judges in the future.

    I think for most judges the problem is not to decide wether or not a fight should be stopped but to do this in “the heat of the battle” when thousands of fans start screaming and you’re the one who has to decide if it is enough.

    How often are the commentators referring to the “stagefright”. The same applies to the referees and the only way to improve this is to have them judge even more fights.

  18. Fluyid says:

    “Has any athletic commissioner sought out the spotlight more, or done more interviews than Keith Kizer?”

    I agree. The guy posts and puts himself out front as if he craves approval from the fans.

  19. hilo says:

    McCarthy chose to leave on his own and McCarthy needs to file an application like anyone else. But maybe there’s more to this, like the fact that McCarty was on the UFC payroll and only would ref for the UFC and would turn down other organizations when called upon by the Athletic Commsissions. I also recall something about him demanding first class travel and demanding hotel suites.

  20. hilo says:

    Funny after someone leaves, their mistakes are forgotten easier than their triumphs. McCarthy made his share of serious errors too. Bustamante anyone? Broken nose?


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