Famous MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy joins Bellator broadcast team

John McCarthy began as an MMA referee back at UFC 2 in 1994. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

The most well known referee in mixed martial arts history is stepping outside the cage and into the broadcast booth.

Bellator MMA announced Tuesday that “Big” John McCarthy is joining its broadcast team as a colour commentator.

“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,” McCarthy said in a press release. “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.

“I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than (Bellator president) 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 (Bellator’s parent company) Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”

McCarthy is joining a broadcast team that also consists of Mauro Ranallo, Mike Goldberg and Chael Sonnen. The 55-year-old’s first event in his new role will be at Bellator 192 later this month.

“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,” Coker stated. “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.”

Bellator recently parted ways with longtime colour commentator Jimmy Smith.

McCarthy, who has been refereeing MMA since 1994, told MMAFighting’s Marc Raimondi that although he is not retired from officiating and can still choose to referee international or small local events if he wants to, he will not be refereeing at Bellator or UFC events for the foreseeable future.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.