Big John McCarthy has been with the UFC since it’s inception back in 1993. He is by far the organizations most popular referee and usually officiates it’s biggest fights. Ben Ziedler of MMA Madness recently caught up with Big John to get his take on a variety of topics:
Big John On Getting His Start:
I started because I worked out with Rorian and Royce Gracie before the UFC was ever started. When they did the first one, there were some things that happened that Rorian wasn’t happy with, and he asked me to do it.
Big John’s Thoughts On Fedor:
What do I think of Fedor? I think Fedor is a phenomenal fighter. He’s extremely well-rounded; he does things really well. He’s the best at some things, and what he’s not the best at he’s good at. He’s got very good stand up as far as he’s willing to throw. He throws a lot of punches from different angles; his wrestling ability is good; his hips are very good; his ability to stay up at times and his hip movement is outstanding; his ground-and-pound is as good as anyone’s has ever been; he throws punches from the ground harder because of the way that he turns his hips; and his submission game is good. He’s a phenomenal fighter. How would he do in the UFC? I think given time that’d he be as dominant as he was in PRIDE. But I think that if you throw him in against a top guy when he’s not used to the cage, the different rules, or the size of the cage, a lot of things would work against him. If he was brought into the UFC I think that he should take some fights to get himself acclimated to it, because there is a difference. I think that’d be a smart thing to do. And skill-wise he’s probably the top guy in the world right now, but he’s not used to the things that happen. It’s a different atmosphere [In the UFC]; it’s a different arena. There are things that you can do in that cage that don’t work in a ring. Especially against a guy like Randy who uses the cage very well, he’s knowledgeable about how it works. Fedor would be putting himself at a disadvantage in his first fight. It would’ve been a mistake.
Big John On The Former PRIDE Fighters Struggles’ To Adjust To The UFC:
The ring is different than the cage. First of all the PRIDE ring is smaller. Everyone talks about how big the ring is, but it’s only 24 feet. At my gym I have the PRIDE ring and the UFC cage, and there’s just a ton of more space in the cage than there is in that ring. When a guy comes over from PRIDE there’s going to be a difference no matter what as far as the pace of a fight, the things that will happen, and the use of that cage. When you cut a guy off in a ring, it’s different than cutting a guy off in a cage. It’s caused Mirko [Cro Cop] a lot of problems, because he’s not used to it. He ends up chasing guys at times, or he doesn’t cut off the right angle to set himself up because he’s just not used to that environment. When Mauricio came in he had problems getting to Forrest when he was trying to cut him off, Forrest was using angles on him where Mauricio couldn’t get to him. And that’s all part of learning. When you come into the UFC the cage is different — it’s bigger and the pace of the fight is different. No matter what anyone says, it is different. In PRIDE, Japanese fans are different than American fans. They don’t push so much for that pace to be at a high level. They’re more appeasing of a slow pace as long as they think it’s tactical and that the fighters are trying to do something. Whereas in America the fans start to boo, so guys naturally start to press and push the pace. Sometimes that can work against you if you’re not used to it.
Big John’s Favorite Fight:
It’s impossible for me to say. I’ve done so many fights! [Laughs] But asking what my ultimate favorite fight is could mean what fight recently, or what was the biggest fight as far as coverage and anticipation. But I did the Tyson Griffin-Clay Guida fight in Ireland. I love that fight. I thought it was a phenomenal fight between two great guys. They did everything in that fight that is part of mixed martial arts. I love that fight.
For the full interview click here.