Bellator MMA on Tuesday made a surprise announcement, revealing that pioneering mixed martial arts referee “Big” John McCarthy has joined the promotion’s broadcast booth.
“Bellator is pleased to announce that it has come to an agreement with John McCarthy to serve as color commentator during broadcasts on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network, which kicks off with Bellator 192 on Saturday, Jan. 20,” the fight promotion announced.
Paramount is the newly rebranded form of Spike TV. Bellator 192 is the fight promotion’s first event of 2018 and the first on the rebranded network. It features a welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and top contender Rory MacDonald, as well as the opening bout for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, which pits Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen.
“With the addition of ‘Big’ John to our broadcast team, we have put together the premier group of MMA commentators ahead of our Jan. 20 debut on the Paramount Network,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “With John and Chael providing analysis, you’re getting two people who have spent more time in the cage than they have spent with a headset on, and that will translate to a positive viewing experience for Bellator fans.”
Over the past 20 years, McCarthy has set the bar when it comes to officiating in MMA, a sport where he has overseen countless fights promoted by Bellator, the UFC, and numerous other promotions all over the world, serving as the referee for some of the biggest bouts in the history of the sport. A former Los Angeles Police Officer, and a Self-Defense Instructor at the Los Angeles Police Academy, McCarthy is also the founder of “C.O.M.M.A.N.D.,” a program that trains and certifies hopeful MMA referees and judges. McCarthy’s regulatory work is equally as impressive, as he was a key figure in the writing of the sport’s Unified Rules, which are recognized by the ABC and athletic commissions all across North America.
Along with his broadcasting duties, the man behind the catchphrase “Let’s get it on!” will also provide a unique level of first-hand insight to the plethora of original content produced by Bellator’s digital team.
“I first want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to work with the incredible team Bellator has assembled. It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s. My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them.” McCarthy said, suggesting that he is leaving refereeing in the rearview mirror.
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“I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”
In addition to inking the deal with McCarthy, who joins the team following the exodus of longtime color commentator Jimmy Smith, Chael Sonnen has signed an extension to remain a part of select Bellator broadcasts, breaking down all the action alongside Bellator announcers Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo.