Access denied: NSAC rejects application for officiating license from 'Big' John McCarthy

Mixed martial arts referee 'Big' John McCarthy failed to obtain his license to resume officiating in the state of Nevada after his Sept. 10 application was chewed up and spit out by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), according to

McCarthy — perhaps the most recognized and respected referee in the history of the sport — retired from his in-ring duties following his 535th bout (the main event between Roger Huerta and Clay Guida) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 6 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 8, 2007.

"Big" John hung up the medical gloves to pursue a new career as an on-air personality and strategic adviser for The Fight Network, as well as a color commentator for the Affliction: "Banned" event in July 2008.

During his absence, the famed referee made comments in support of then-exiled star Randy Couture, as well as some criticism regarding the direction of UFC pay-per-views and its current officiating.

While the critique was small potatoes, it didn't sit well with UFC President Dana White or Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the NSAC. Both sides remained diplomatic, but McCarthy never reapplied for his license to officiate in Nevada, even after his return to the sport at Strikeforce: "Destruction" in November 2008.

Until now.

Naturally, Kizer insists that McCarthy was not approved due to limited space and a large pool of applicants -- not personal ill will, and that his application is not denied -- just in limbo with the dozens of other applicants who will never see the inside of a Nevada cage.

Like the many fighters he's overseen throughout his career, McCarthy was gracious in defeat:

"A license to referee or judge with an athletic commission -- it’s not a right, it’s a privilege. Everyone kept bringing up the fact that I wasn’t licensed in Nevada, so I said, ‘Alright, I’ll apply.’ I have no problems with anybody in Nevada. When you do your job right as a referee, there’s not gonna be a lot of people saying things. The sport is growing; the officiating is having to grow with it. The whole reason I’m [back] reffing is because it’s what I love to do, and I’m going to enjoy doing what I’m doing."

Internet activists have started a Twitter campaign to persuade the powers that be to enlist the services of McCarthy for UFC 104: Shogun vs. Machida, which is held in his home state of California (and where he is currently licensed).

Will we ever see "Big" John back in the UFC? Well, compared to how easily we got Tito Ortiz back inside the Octagon, McCarthy's homecoming could almost be considered a foregone conclusion.

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