John McCarthy Interview Done prior to Affliction showOTM: We are here with Big John McCarthy, John first off tell us from your point of view how has the sport evolved?
McCarthy: O man the sport just keeps getting bigger and bigger and better and better, and there are just so many fighters out there. There are just more guys out there that are just learning the entire game of Mixed Martial Arts. You also have shows like the TFA tonight that are having very competitive fights between very talented fighters that show all the elements that make a true Mixed Martial Artist, and that’s exciting to watch.
OTM: We have seen Refs like Dan Miragliotta who has had some questionable stoppages during his time in the cage, now we know last year you did retire and given the fact you were the most experienced referee in the game give us your opinion on what new referees have to concentrate on in the cage?
McCarthy: You know as a referee here is the problem, you are never going to make everybody happy. Your whole goal inside the cage is not about being popular with the fans; it’s about going in and doing what is right for the fighters during the fight. You want the fighters to come in and do their job to the best of their ability, and you want to do your job to the best of your ability. As a ref if you need to make a decision you make it and you are firm with it and understand you made the right call and understand its your job. As a ref though you need to keep yourself out of the fight as much as possible if you can? The whole thing is to make sure the fighters go in and come out safe and be able to come back and compete again, that means as a referee hopefully you are doing your job and you are keeping them safe.
OTM: Now looking back at your career what fights stick out in your head the most?
McCarthy: O there are a ton of them, I was so lucky that I got to referee some of the best fighters in the world for a long time. Some of my favorite fights were with guys that were great fighters but they were not in everyone’s top ten list. Fights like Scott Smith against Pete Sell, you know what happen with that fight with everything that went one. Tyson Griffin against Clay Guida I really love that fight, I mean there has been so many. When you really look at the big ones like the Randy Coutures, the Chuck Liddells, the Tito Ortizs and all those guys there are so many great fights I have been apart of and had the pleasure of doing I have been just a very lucky person.
OTM: Now John McCarthy outside of the Cage, outside of the black pants and black shirt. Tell us a little bit about him? I know you do have your own gym up in Valencia California, for the fans tell us about that?
McCarthy: I have a gym it’s in Valencia California its right where Magic Mountain is at, its 16,000 square feet. When I was putting my gym together I wanted to have a place where you didn’t have to do what I had to do. You didn’t have to go to a Jiu-jitsu school and go to a Muay Thai school or a boxing gym. I wanted one place that had it all and that is what I have there. At the school I have Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Submission Grappling, Muay Thai, boxing and Amateur Wrestling. I have everything I think it takes to be a good Mixed Martial Artist, if you have all those components you just bring it all together and teach Mixed Martial Arts on top of it.
OTM: Looking at the present I know you are going to be commenting for the Affliction card coming up? How did you get hooked up with them? Did they approach you?
McCarthy: Well I have had an association with Affliction for a long time even when I was refereeing the UFC, I have worn their clothing and they have sponsored me and things like that. I have tried to represent their brand so when I left Refereeing I went to work for the Fight Network. Now them and Affliction have come together on an agreement to show the card in Canada so they are using me as a part of that and that is how I got associated with Affliction.
OTM: There has been talk in the Media with your name associated with the new weight classes that are being talked about with the AC’s (McCarthy Laughs) and a lot of rumors being thrown around. Tell us what did you propose or if you even proposed anything?
McCarthy: There were things that I did propose but mine wasn’t the weight classes I really didn’t care. Although I do think there needs to be something within the heavyweights, I think the heavyweight class does need to be split. I feel it is not right, and you know what it’s really not about the guys in the UFC it’s really about the guys in the smaller shows. It’s really not right when you have a guy who is 210lbs fighting a guy who is 265lbs there is a huge difference there and it can be a problem sometimes. Its not about what’s good for the UFC it’s about what is good for the sport of MMA and its fighters.
There were things that I thought should have been taken out of the rules like the downward elbow strike being a ridicules rule because it was about protecting an area that is already protected. That rule did confuse people and there was really no purpose to it so we got that out, also we did get the heels to the kidney that was illegal for a long time taken out. Overall those were the things that I really wanted to push for and I did get that done. When you look at it though my name got put out there because no one really knows the names of the Commissioners, they just know my name so you know what that’s fine it doesn’t bother me. As far as the weight classes go they brought in 17 and that was way too much, I tried to cut it down to 14.
When you look at it all comes down to this, you can have the 14 weight classes and it really doesn’t matter the promotions are going to use what ever weight classes they want. The UFC right now they have 5 weight classes that they use, there actually is 8 as far as the unified rules go right now so the UFC doesn’t use 3 of them. Now that is their choice they don’t have to use them but it’s the same with the 14 they don’t have to use them. I think they look at it like if you start to split the light heavyweights and the heavyweights with what they are trying to do with the weight classes, I mean if they don’t follow them and don’t put fights up at that class then some other promotion might follow them and end up having the best fighters and the UFC doesn’t want that.
OTM: Now taking a look back at Affliction Banned, where do you see Affliction headed over the next few years?
McCarthy: Well you know Affliction is looking at this in a multifaceted fashion, they are looking at putting on the very best fights they can. If you look at the card they are putting together it is fantastic, now look I’m not here to promote Affliction or the UFC or put either down or anything like that. That card is the best fight that has been put together this year by far, it is the best heavyweight card put together since probably Pride’s heavyweight Grand Prix. So when you look at them and say are they doing everything right? Well ya they are doing something right because they have some fantastic fighters competing on this show next week. You know Fedor is the #1 heavyweight no matter what anyone wants to say, take all the promotional crap aside Fedor is the #1 heavyweight in the world and until someone beats him he is going to be that. Now with the rest of the guys they have like Arlovski, Barnett and Sylvia, all of them ex UFC champions. They have Rothwell who is the uncrowned IFL heavyweight champion and also Paul Buentello against Alexander Emelianenko. There has never been a heavyweight card in North America that has even come close to what that card has for heavyweights. Its incredible they have Vitor Belfort coming in at 185lbs that’s going to be a very good fight between him and Terry Martin, that and Lindland fighting again and no matter what that is one of the top middleweights fighting in the world. Overall they have done an incredible job in putting this fight card together.
OTM: Well we thank you very much for talking to us here at Onthemat.com John.
McCarthy: My pleasure man.