Referee royalty, Big John McCarthy is less than impressed with the referee’s controversial ruling in the Ion Cutelaba vs Magomed Ankalaev bout at UFC Norfolk.
Last weekend, the light heavyweight fight already got off to a strange start when Cutelaba walked across the canvas to bump into his Russian opponent. Security entered to separate the two parties, and the bad blood spilt over into the fight.
The 205-pound opponents traded fists and kicks in the opening round. Ankalaev connected with a few shots early on that appeared to have rocked Cutelaba. This prompted a hasty intervention from the referee Kevin MacDonald who put a stop the action and awarded Ankalaev the TKO victory. Cutelaba and many spectators (including Ariel Helwani) were enraged by the arguably premature stoppage.
Big John McCarthy is one of the highest touted referees in the sport. On an episode of the Weighing In Podcast with Josh Thomson, he shared his criticisms of the referee’s performance:
“It was absolutely horrendous…Kevin MacDonald, you’re lucky the fighter didn’t sock you in the face. You’re extremely lucky he didn’t beat your ass, I thought he was gonna,” said Josh Thomson.
“First off, if you’re gonna do the jobs that are associated with the commission, then do the godd*mn job,” added Big John McCarthy.
“If you’re gonna be an inspector and your job is to be in that fighter’s corner and make sure the fighter stays in the corner, then why are you watching and standing there like a fan, and allowing this fighter to walk over? You know, you can start to walk with him. If he stops halfway, you can stop with him no problem. But as soon as he crosses that midway point, your hands start to pull him away ‘hey don’t even think about it’, and you move him back if you’re the referee. What are you doing? You’re standing in there because you’re so cool?
“You’ve got to be paying attention when both fighters are in the cage, that cage is your responsibility. As soon as one steps in, once one as one steps out, you don’t have to worry about anything. But when they’re both in there, your attention is on the fighters. So, that whole bit when they come together. That could’ve ended horribly, it didn’t, but it did about 38 seconds later.
“If you’re gonna do a job, do the goddamn job. Quit trying to look cool, quit trying to be a fan, do your frickin’ job.”
McCarthy believes half of the problem lies with the commission who will do very little to discipline the referee or prevent finishes like this from happening in the future:
“You know it’s simple, and this is what’s wrong. The commission itself, what are they gonna do? Nothing. That inspector should be taken and ‘hey, you’re gonna stay in the back from now on since you don’t know what to do when you’re out here in the cage, under the lights in front of the cameras. Well, I’m going to put you in a place where you don’t have as much thinking capabilities needed.’
“It’s just the way it is. This is the way you’re supposed to run something, it’s a business!”
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