For the perhaps the biggest fight in UFC history, the man who has been there since the beginning and is still the face of MMA refereeing, "Big" John McCarthy, will be in charge of overseeing the Octagon during the promotion's inaugural network TV debut in the main event, a heavyweight title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
The event will take place in Anaheim, California, which means the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) had the final say in who the judges and referees of the event will be. MMAmania.com spoke with CSAC Executive Officer George Dodd today about the selection of McCarthy and he confirmed the initial report that came out late last week about McCarthy's selection.
"It's 99 percent still. There's always that last minute thing that could always change something. Obviously something could happen to John or whatever the case may be but for right now, until he steps in the cage, it's 99 percent sure."
"Big" John McCarthy has been a part of the sport for a longer period than any other referee, making his debut in the cage at UFC 2. He played a huge part in helping innovate the sport to make it safer as well as educating athletic commissions to help mixed martial arts get legalized. The celebrity referee is more than qualified and Dodd explained his selection:
"It's kind of based off of who I think will have the best opportunity to do well in that event so based off their skills and ability. In California here, I have the availability to use a lot of highly qualified officials and John for this event, I thought was the best qualified but again, Herb Dean is also on the card as well as Larry Landis so they're both qualified at this time to do that event but I just am 99 percent sure that John's gonna do the fight."
The internet is always a hotbed for rumors and they began swirling after the announcement because Dana White had recently stated that he hoped Herb Dean, a referee he's often referred to as "the best MMA ref out there," would officiate the main event. McCarthy had also been in Dana White's doghouse about some comments he'd made about the role that the original owners of the UFC had in the making of the unified rules of mixed martial arts, something McCarthy addressed in his book.
Some felt that McCarthy's selection may have been to counter any bias from the UFC but Dodd put a quick halt to the conspiracy theories when asked directly.
"There's no truth to that. Herb Dean did the last fight in Anaheim down there. I believe it was between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. Josh Rosenthal did the last big fight up here in Oakland and so it's based off their skills and ability and also a little rotation. John is the next up and he's quite capable of doing this fight."
Well, there you have it. Barring a freak accident, "Big" John will be in charge of officiating the main event between Velasquez and dos Santos in a fight that can absolutely not afford to have anything go wrong, and it's simply a matter of regular main event rotation, no bias involved.
Sound good to you, Maniacs?