Veteran referee "Big" John McCarthy hasn't refereed a mixed martial arts contest in Nevada in nearly two years.
And as Sherdog.com first reported on Tuesday, a recently denied McCarthy application to the Nevada State Athletic Commission means "Big" John still isn't eligible to officiate in the state.
But as NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
), conspiracy theorists can take a rest; McCarthy isn't the only veteran referee that the commission simply doesn't have a use for at this time.
"We just don't have as many mixed martial arts events in the state as we used to," Kizer said. "We still have the major events with the UFC, but we don't have as many of the club shows and smaller shows, so we just don't have a need for more referees."
Nevada has added just two referees since Kizer took over for Marc Ratner in 2006: Josh Rosenthal and Kim Winslow. And while McCarthy is certainly the most tenured of the current 30-40 applicants that Kizer has on file, he's not the only experienced referee that has been turned down by the commission.
Larry Landless also has an application that resides in the "pending" file, and Dan Miragliotta's application was also put on hold earlier this year for precisely the same reason.
While the status of a referee's pending application may seem of little consequence to most MMA fans, McCarthy has developed near-superstar status as an iconic face of mixed martial arts since beginning his officiating career at UFC 2 (note his Round 5 MMA action figure and frequent media appearances).
Couple McCarthy's status with a few less-than-complimentary remarks made in regards to the UFC and NSAC during a brief run as analyst for The Fight Network, and his status as an official for those organizations remains a closely watched story.
Some MMA observers have suggested that McCarthy is on a sort of UFC "blacklist" and that UFC officials have let athletic commissions know that the use of "Big" John in an official capacity would result in less events – and less revenue – in those locales.
Kizer scoffed at the notion that this latest development regarding McCarthy was influenced by anything other than the commission's current needs.
"No one from the UFC, including Dana White, has ever contacted me about not using Mr. McCarthy," Kizer said.
With McCarthy's service not needed in Nevada, the longtime referee's next chance to return to the octagon will be at UFC 104 on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.
McCarthy is already a certified referee in California, and "Big" John recently told MMAjunkie.com he'd make himself available to work the event.
"I'm licensed in California, and if I'm assigned, I'll go," McCarthy said.
Messages left by MMAjunkie.com for California State Athletic Commission Assistant Executive Bill Douglas to determine if the commission would be utilizing McCarthy at the event were not immediately returned.
John Morgan is the lead staff reporter for MMAjunkie.com.
They pretty much outlined everything we have said here, which I think is interesting that others feel the same way. I just realized Kieth Kizer is the same guy that could be seen mugging on TUF last year. I guess being on national TV can be considered a motivating factor is this decision too haha