Shout out to our idol Big John "Let's Get It On" McCarthy! The veteran mixed martial arts referee made a Manila detour to officiate the PXC Lightweight match between Seung Hwa Han and Harris "The Hitman" Sarmiento at PXC 33, which takes place this Saturday, September 1, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Kapitolyo, Pasig. Click here for our rundown of PXC 33's fight card and full ticket information.
Big John was also gracious enough to chat with us and it turns out that the 6'4", 280-pound mammoth official is quite the MMA professor. He speaks like a no-bullshit mentor, with words so profound that he could turn any maton into a shrieking, rosy-cheeked fanboy. Check out our exclusive interview with Big John below.
On where his moniker "Big John" came from
"One of the first people to call me that was Art Davie. Art was one of the originators of the UFC. He had an office, the Gracie academy in Torrance, California and outside the back door down the street is his other office called Wow Promotions. One time I was over there and I picked him up over my head and he was like, 'Put me down, Big John! Put me down!' And he said he’ll call me Big John from then on. Then he started saying it to the announcers and the announcers started saying it on television, and it just caught on. If there’s anyone getting credit for it, that would be Art Davie."
On the countries he's been to since becoming a referee
"Lots and lots. I’ve worked all throughout the United States, all throughout Canada, Australia, China, Japan, Kuwait, Brazil, all over the world. I’ve been doing mixed martial arts since the beginning, almost 19 years now. I’ve been doing this even before there was the UFC, so it’s been a long ride but a great one."
On whether he agrees with the rules in MMA
"I don’t find it difficult. There are rules that I like and there are rules that I don’t like. The rules that I primarily use just about everywhere is the unified rule. But I’ve done rules that are basically UFC and Pride rules combined, and there are rules within the unified rule that I think are stupid. They don’t help the fight and they don’t help the fighter. I was one of the people that put them together, but they were done by people that didn’t understand this type of fighting, so they had a perception of rules that they think would help but really wouldn’t. But I go by what they want; my job is to be the official under the rules that they regulate things at and that’s what I do."
On his least favorite regulation
"I don’t like stomps. I don’t care if someone gets stomped to the body per se, but if you watch it in actual fighting competition, the only time it would work effectively is if the fighter is really hurt. Anytime that you have a fighter try to do a stomp on a fighter that’s not hurt, it ends up usually backfiring."
On dealing with early stoppages
"Here’s a way to look at it – people don’t understand the complexity of officiating. There are times when I have a fighter who’s asking me to get ‘em out of the fight. He doesn’t want to tap because he has trainers, he has a family, and he has people that are there who doesn’t want to see him give up. But he wants out of the fight so I get him out of it, and then I'll call the decision a 'referee stoppage' instead of 'fighter tapped out' or 'verbal submission'. Everyone will tell me how I shouldn’t have stopped the fight, and I just say 'whatever'. I don’t tell people about it, but when I talk to the fighter before the fight I tell them these things. I’ll take the heat for them if I have to."
Next: On dealing with controversial judges
PHOTO COURTESY OF PACIFIC XTREME COMBAT