Excellent book. I have always had a great a great deal of respect for John McCarthy as a referee. This book has only enhanced my opinion of him professionally and personally. Now only was John one of the first MMA referees, but after reading this book as a reader I found out how instrumental he was in making MMA and especially the UFC what it is today.
I have heard quotes form people saving that the reason John was so good at his job is because you did not notice him in the Octagon till the time he was needed. He writes the book the same way he puts emphasis on the fact that the fighter are the one doing the hard work as a referee he is in there to protect the fighters when they cannot protect themselves. Another great thing is the way he manages to humanize the fighters themselves. He talks about the emotions of different fighters before, during and after a fight. There ecstasy in victory and the crushing raw emotion of disappointment when they lose.
The book starts with John giving his family history. He starts with his grandfather, then his father and his career and innovations in the police force in terms of training and most prominently S.W.A.T. Then we get John's early family and school life, his early sporting career. For those that you don't know you might be surprised by his choice of high school sport. I know I was. Then following in his father's footsteps, to stepping out of his father shadow and carving out his own legacy on the force. During this period he vents his frustrations of the internal politics inside the police department. The difference between an office wanting to arrest the bad guys but protect and serve the public, compared to someone drunk on their own power or hungry for a promotion. A point about Johns character is that in the position he is in he could very easily made this book a tell all behind the scenes gossip book. He does not he mentions certain situations and stories but a number of cases he does not name and same the person involved.
Then from the half-way point of the book. Here the book becomes less about John, and much more about the history of MMA, and the UFC. At the time the UFC was MMA in America. Now that MMA is (finally) recognized as a sport how the new management made the UFC the biggest MMA league in the world. John was there from the beginning and helped in a number of ways behind the scenes more they just following the rules; he helped make the rules and made sure they were followed. The book ends round the end of 2011. If you are an MMA fan this is a great book, on both the history of MMA and one of the true pioneers of the sport. Great book bread it you will not regret it.
It's UFC 140, December 2011 and Jon Jones has just successfully defended his Light Heavyweight Title against Lyoto Machida, defeating him with a standing guillotine choke that put's Machida to sleep before he can tap out, as Jones walks aways Machida drops head first to the floor of the Octagon and the first person Machida will see when he awakes is veteran referee "Big " John McCarthy who checks on him and tells him he's going to be okay. McCarthy has done this countless times on fighters who have been knocked out or put to sleep by a submission. The fact that an MMA referee has written his own Autobiography will probably have newer fans of the sport asking why? Who's this guy? With "Let's Get it On! The Making of MMA & Its Ultimate Referee" you find out that "Big" John is one of the early pioneers of the UFC and MMA in general.
The book covers John's early life as he follows in his dad's footsteps and joins the LAPD; we are given a great insight into the Los Angeles riots that happened in 1992 after four Police officers were acquitted of the beating of Rodney King. It really was open season and anything goes and McCarthy tells us the stories of being a cop on the streets during this time that included being shot at regularly. Also the worries he had for his wife Elaine who was also on the force. It was in the aftermath of these riots that McCarthy would first meet Rorion Gracie and how the original idea for the first ever UFC event came about.
McCarthy covers the first few UFC's in great detail and includes some of the original ideas such as alligators circling the Octagon! He would eventually go on to referee the second event after been turned down in his attempts to compete. What follows are great stories of the UFC's early days where it really was no holds barred as loads of different fighting disciplines came to meet to decide which was the best. One thing McCarthy never get's that much credit for is the safer rules that he helped get put in place. There are many stories of the UFC going to court just trying to get a show on and at times failing and having to move the whole show to another state.
Another interesting thing is the subject of "fixed" fights in the UFC's early days; it's great to finally have some insight to this. Also trying to get regulated in Las Vegas throws up a few interesting names who were opposed such as Lorenzo Fertitta and Glenn Carano(father of future mma superstar & actress Gina). Of course the takeover by the Fertitta's is discussed and what new changes new UFC president Dana White brought. The Ultimate Fighter reality show is well covered as well as his retirement and come back to being a referee.
The book has some great photos of early UFC events as well down the side of some pages is a box with the event and matches officiated by McCarthy who gives a brief description of what happened. The book is written with long time MMA Journalist Loretta Hunt, a woman who has been covering MMA for over 10 years and has written for leading sites Sherdog, ESPN.com and currently Sports Illustrated. She also worked with Randy Couture on his fine autobiography "Becoming The Natural".
With MMA books getting more popular it's great to have an insight from one of its Pioneer's and one of the men responsible for how big it is today. Not only is this a fine Autobiography of "Big" John McCarthy's Career and life but it's a great history of what the UFC was like and what it has become today. There is only one thing left to say "Let's Get It On!"
An enjoyable, quick read providing interesting insight into the life of the world's most famous MMA referee . Big John comes across as a principled, decent guy but also one who is prepared to get stuck into a fight himself and likely an athlete who could have performed admirably in the Octagon Ring itself. He tells briefly of his early childhood and experience in the LAPD and the importance of his family unit. He describes the origins of the UFC and the significance of the Gracie family, he describes the mishaps and the evolution of the UFC from the army days to what it has become today and I now better appreciate the importance of having a knowledgeable, decisive referee. Big John comes across as candid and honest and refrains from spilling juicy gossip in favour of a straightforward, fair account of the. Ups and downs in the profession. There are also occasional philosophical gems and words of wisdom which come over as especially heartfelt considering the life he has led. Four rather than five stars for me as I felt that there was so much more that could be told about the inner goings and machine toons of the UFC and provide more detail as to his favourite fights and fighters. But I guess we will need to wait for his notebook for that.
As a big MMA fan I was sceptical that the autobiography of an MMA referee would be worth my while but I took a chance, and I'm definitely glad I did.
Brilliant book, which is interesting from start to finish, even when talking about non MMA aspects of Big John's life, his early life growing up, his work on the police force etc.
This book has lots of great background info and reveals plenty of stuff I never knew about the UFC, from the guy who has been there since UFC 1 - including his thoughts on some fights he believes have been fixed,
I have read a great deal of MMA biographies and Big John McCarthy's is definitely one of the better ones. John tells about both his private life as well as his life with MMA, and how those two things at some points in his life is about the same thing. After reading the book it is clear that John McCarthy has had a HUGE impact on MMA and been a factor in making it into what it is today. If John McCarthy isn't honoured with a place in the UFC's Hall of Fame then the Hall of Fame isn't worth even mentioning.
I've read quite a few MMA autobiographies, but it suprised me somewhat to find this the most enjoyable and revealing one so far. 'Big' John comes over as charasmatic even on screen, but I had no idea how pivotal he had been in the transformation of MMA from its early days when it struggled to gain acceptance in to the sport we know it today.
Very good book for anyone interested in the ufc.john was there from the start and saw the 'no rules' begining,through the 'dark period' and is still reffing mma today.a very interesting journey with lots of info about how rules were established (many directly from john)and interesting behind the scenes tales.
If you are big UFC fan and have been for a long time then buy this book as you will not regret it. You get to learn about the early days of the UFC and what went on behind the scenes which is fascinating. I like when big John talks about how UFC 1 was organised and talking to Art Jimmerson about grappling. I read this book quicker than any other book I have read. I think it also helps that as John was not a fighter he does not try to make himself sound like a hard man.
But learning about John the Police Officer, father and Husband you find out he has lived an interesting life and comes across as an alright guy.
For new UFC fans who don't know the history and want to learn about it then get this book. If you don't care about the history then still give it a try as it is interesting.
I have read Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes books and enjoyed them all but this was by far the best.
This is an excellent read that goes beyond what I expected. Not only does it cover the evolution of the Unified Rules, it covers the struggles of the UFC both in the pre-Zuffa and early Zuffa eras. The account of the McCarthy/White rift is discussed, but I have a feeling there was more to it that mentioned in the book, but there are two sides to every story so we may never really know the full picture. I would recommend that anyone who reads this considers watching the documentary "Fighting for a Generation".