Veteran MMA referee “Big” John McCarthy is stepping away from officiating fights so he can be at the broadcast booth calling fights. McCarthy has called fights before for the short lived Affliction promotion, but returned to his officiating duties after the organization went under.
McCarthy will join Mauro Ranallo and Mike Goldberg at the commentary booth starting with Bellator 192 this month. McCarthy takes over a spot previously held by Jimmy Smith, who parted ways with the promotion in late 2017.
“It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s,” McCarthy said in a press release. “My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them. I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than [Bellator president] Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto also reported via Twitter that McCarthy is going to officially retire as a referee:
Bellator president Scott Coker confirms via text John McCarthy is "retiring from officiating."— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 9, 2018
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker says having McCarthy and Chael Sonnen joining the commentary team will give the fans a great viewing experience.
“With the addition of ‘Big’ John to our broadcast team, we have put together the premier group of MMA commentators ahead of our Jan. 20 debut on the Paramount Network,” Coker said. “With John and Chael providing analysis, you’re getting two people who have spent more time in the cage than they have spent with a headset on, and that will translate to a positive viewing experience for Bellator fans.”
Bellator 192 takes place on Saturday, January 20 from The Forum in Inglewood, California with Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on the Paramount Network.