The California State Athletic Commission has assigned “Big” John McCarthy a referee’s position at Strikeforce “Destruction” on Nov. 21 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
The assignment will mark the 15-year veteran’s return to officiating after McCarthy announced his retirement in December 2007 to join The Fight Network, a Canadian-based cable channel, as an on-air analyst and strategic advisor.
McCarthy oversaw his 535th bout between dynamic lightweights Clay Guida and Roger Huerta at “The Ultimate Fighter 6” Finale last December in Las Vegas. He officiated his first bout at UFC 2 “No Way Out” in March 1994 in Denver, Colo., and was among the original authors of the MMA’s first set of guidelines in 1998.
In his analyst’s role, the 45-year-old McCarthy provided color commentary for Canada’s TKO and Hardcore Championship Fighting promotions, and most recently called the action alongside FOX Sports Network regulars Frank Trigg and Jay Glazer at Affliction Entertainment’s “Banned” last July in Anaheim, Calif.
McCarthy resigned from The Fight Network on Oct. 7, amidst rumors the channel was awash with financial difficulties.
“I had a good time doing [commentary] and it was fun,” said McCarthy. “The Fight Network overextended itself and wasn’t ready to do certain things that they said that they were going to be able to do. It just didn’t work out there.”
Rather than take another offer that would keep him outside the cage, McCarthy said he chose to return to the role he originated inside it.
“I missed doing it,” said McCarthy. “Sometimes when you walk away from something and you think it’s time, once you’re away you realize what you’re missing –- it’s kind of like why guys come back to fighting. It’s what I like doing. It’s what I was meant to do.”
Retired from the Los Angeles Police Department where he served for 22 years, McCarthy instructed over 10,000 recruits in arrest and control procedures and survival tactics.
McCarthy has not veered far from his teaching roots. He conducted his second Certified Officials for MMA National Development (COMMAND) referee and judges’ instructional course in October and has a third seminar planned for late November at his mixed martial arts academy in Valencia, Calif. The program is recognized by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).
Though most recognizable from his tenure with the UFC, McCarthy said he has no expectations of where or when he will be placed for assignment.
“I have no control over that,” he said. “That’s up to athletic commissions and what you get assigned to. I may do one show a year. I may do 50. I don’t know, but if I get assigned to something, then I’ll be going if I can.”
McCarthy was recently re-licensed as a referee with the athletic commissions in California, Ohio, and the River Cree in Alberta, Canada. He said he plans apply for licensure in additional states as well.