Big John McCarthyIn a perfect world, all “Big” John McCarthy had to do to become a licensed referee once again in the State of Nevada was apply. And he did. Being widely regarded as by far the best referee in mixed martial arts, his approval by the NSAC should merely be a formality, right?

Wrong. This isn’t a perfect world and Big John wasn’t approved. Instead he received a letter from the NSAC saying there wasn’t room for him and his application would be thrown in the “pending” file with everyone else’s.

In a mailed letter from Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, McCarthy, who submitted his application Sept. 10, was informed that the state “[does] not anticipate adding any additional referees at this time. We will place your application in the pending file in case the situation changes.”

“We keep our list very short,” Kizer said of the existing list of approved MMA refs, “mainly because we want to keep people busy. We probably have about 20 cards a year. Some states may have 100 people licensed, but how often can they work? You want to have enough work for [referees]. It’s very important that the ref, doctor and inspectors communicate during a fight.”

Given the existing list of six licensed referees and numerous applicants, Kizer could not say when an opening would materialize.

“No one’s been turned down [for a license],” said Kizer. “He’s applied, and he’s in the file with other applicants.”

Gee, I can think of a few referees who Big John could easily replace on that short list, but even if that route is a little too harsh, are we really supposed to believe it’s impossible to make room for one more?

Or is this a result of the bad blood that may still exist in the NSAC towards Big John?

Both Kizer and Big John were asked that question. Their answer? No comment.