by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Legendary mixed martial arts referee “Big” John McCarthy on Friday announced his official retirement from refereeing to take a position as an analyst and production member for The Fight Network.

While many fans have become accustomed to seeing McCarthy as the referee for every major main event fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he has decided to move on and pursue new interests while maintaining that his working relationship with the UFC was always good.

“Some people thought I was mad at Zuffa and that I wanted to get away from them. That is not true at all,” he said during a media conference call on Friday. “Zuffa has treated me well. The athletic commissions have treated me well. I don’t have any complaints about anything or anybody. There had to come that time and that time is now.”

McCarthy’s role as referee in most major UFC events led many to believe he actually worked for the organization, but since Zuffa purchased the promotion and states sanctioned the events, he only worked for athletic commissions.

“When the UFC first came about, I did work for the UFC because there was no sanctioning bodies, there was no athletic commissions to work with, so that was who I worked with,” he stated. “When Zuffa bought the UFC, that was the end of those relationships with the UFC and I started working for athletic commissions.”

Now with his on air role with The Fight Network, he also ruled out a working relationship with the UFC.

“I really love the UFC. I love the sport of mixed martial arts,” said McCarthy. “My relationship with the UFC will be in a different aspect. I’m not going to be doing anything on the inside with Zuffa, but anything that is related with the sport of MMA that has the UFC involved in it, I want to be a part of reporting on that. I will have nothing to do with the UFC as far as Zuffa.”

Most believed him to be one of, if not thee best referee working in MMA today, and he will continue to help train and teach referees about MMA and make sure there are constant improvements.

“One of the things I already talked about with The Fight Network is that I have a very large interest in the fact that judging and refereeing in the sport of mixed martial arts have to improve,” McCarthy said.

“It has to have a larger base to draw from. I’m still going to have a big part in teaching both refereeing and judging and helping out with the establishment of different rules and things that are going to take place and bringing other people along so there’s going to be that larger pool that the states and the athletic commissions can draw from.”

In his absence, UFC fans will now have to adjust to not hearing his signature “let’s get it on” before a main event fight, but who is out there that can step into the very large shoes of the legendary referee?

McCarthy mentioned names such as Herb Dean, Steve Mazzagatti, Mario Yamasaki, Yves Lavigne, Dan Miragliotta, and Josh Rosenthal as referees that fans should look towards in the future, while he agrees that new names must surface at some point to help with the growth of the sport.

“There are a lot of quality referees out there,” said McCarthy. “There definitely has to be more.”

Tonight’s “Ultimate Fighter” finale will be “Big” John’s final event as referee. He did confirm that he will work the main event of that show featuring Clay Guida against Roger Huerta and with that he will close out his refereeing career.