‘Big’ John McCarthy is a veteran referee, and is an expert when it comes to fighter safety.
With that being said, his expertise came in handy at UFC 189 when he was the referee for the Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald bout. The fight was a bloody one from the first round, when MacDonald had his nose broken.
Big John spoke on MMAJunkie radio to discuss the bout.
“Everyone loved that fight, and they should have,” McCarthy said. “But, everyone was concerned about me stopping the fight, either in the third round or the fourth round – stopping the fight with Robbie being hurt and Rory being the winner. Everybody has asked, ‘How close were you to stopping the fight?’ It’s like no one understands. I was never really that concerned about Robbie Lawler in that fight. I was very concerned with Rory MacDonald. From about the fourth minute of the first round on.”
So what exactly was McCarthy looking for when he was watching MacDonald?
“What I’m seeing when I’m watching Robbie and Rory – Rory is, in the first round, landing more punches, but they’re not real hard,” McCarthy said. “Robbie is not throwing a lot, but when he’s landing shots they are thudding shots. They are heavy. And then he ends up breaking his nose in the first round. I watch Rory and he starts doing what we call aspirating blood.
“As he’s breathing through his mouth, he sucks in more air as he gets more tired – now he comes into the second round and third round he gets a cut in his mouth. And he’s got a cut that’s bleeding into his mouth. In the third round he’s really sucking a lot of air. When he goes after Robbie and he’s hurting Robbie, that’s great, but he’s sucking these little droplets of blood that are now being aspirated. They’re not going down into his stomach, they’re going into his lungs and they’re stopping what his lungs can do as far as dissipating that oxygen to his muscles. This is the thing that I’m worried about. This is what I’m watching.”