Customer Reviews

41
4.5 out of 5 stars
Let's Get It On!: The Making of MMA and Its Ultimate Referee
Format: HardcoverChange
Price:$17.54 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Most pro sports referees fade into the background and they like it like that. Few NFL refs are noticed, unless they blow a pass interference call. Major league baseball umps vie for notoriety with outlandish gyrations on strike-out calls, but please just try to name one. NBA refs only make headlines when they are caught betting on games, perhaps during their sentencing hearings. If fans know your name as a ref in most sports, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Not so in mixed martial arts.

Here we have a cast of characters almost as well known as some of the fighters.
These refs in this increasingly popular sport are well known, somewhat celebs in their own right. Many have their own "signature" way of starting the fights. Some are understated and quietly professional, like Mario Yamasaki. Some just bark, "Fight!" Others, like Steve Mazzagatti, yell "Let's hook em'-up!" Perhaps the most iconic MMA ref tag-line, though, belongs to "Big" John McCarthy and his patented start to each contest, as he shakes his hand and exhorts the two fighters, "Let's get it on!"

Big John has been around since the start of MMA and the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). Now along comes his long-awaited autobiography, co-authored by Loretta Hunt. Hunt is one of the nation's premier MMA journalists. She attained some unintended notoriety of her own a few years ago in a well-publicized dust-up with UFC Emperor Dana White, who launched into a profanity-laced tantrum after one of Hunt's journalistic forays.

In a sense, the story of Big John is the story of modern MMA. He was there at the beginning, from UFC 1 when a slender dude in white pajamas somehow was able to choke out and submit a succession of incredible hulks.

So ... does Big John "get it on" in this book? Does he give us the inside scoop on the modern world of mixed martial arts? From his vantage point inside the octagon, does he bring us there in a credible way?

To get to the good stuff, you first have to wade through about 100 pages of back story on Big John's upbringing. This is not bad, because it gives you a context for his interest in athletics and combative sports. As a member of the LAPD during the time of the Rodney King race riots, he became interested in non-lethal ways to control suspects. This led him to intersect with Rorion Gracie who, at the time, was popularizing his own variant of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Southern California. In turn, this growing collaboration with the Gracies gave McCarthy a front-row vantage point regarding the very first UFC events. He was, literally, "present at the creation" of the modern UFC and the phenomenon of mixed martial arts.

Little known fact: before becoming the iconic ref for MMA events, Big John wanted to compete in UFC 2. Rorion Gracie nixed the idea, though, as he did not want Big John potentially having to fight Royce. Instead, he suggested that McCarthy wait until after Royce's reign ended, then get involved as a competitor. In the meantime, McCarthy continued reffing, grew increasingly comfortable in the role, and abandoned any thoughts of entering MMA as a competitor.

Another little-known fact: the yardstick of "intelligently defending yourself" is a phrase and standard coined by McCarthy in the early days of MMA.. Before the ref had the power to stop a one-sided fight, he had to rely on the fighter either tapping out or the fighter's corner literally throwing in the towel. Stubborn corners often refused to do the latter, creating situations where Big John genuinely feared for a fighter's safety. Concerned about this, McCarthy prevailed upon Rorion Gracie to tweak the rules to enable the referee to end a fight when, in the ref's judgment, one of the fighters was not "intelligently defending himself." This made MMA safer, which in turn likely hastened its acceptance by a growing number of state athletic commissions.

Much of the meat of book involves Big John going back, event by event, through the early days of the UFC. For some, this may be a tedious journey. For others, it is an interesting perspective on the early years of some fighters who are now luminaries but who were relative unknowns at the time, including Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort and B.J. Penn. He notes the way the sport was professionalized once Zuffa and the Fertita brothers purchased the franchise. This circumscribed the role which McCarthy had played during the SEG/Meyrowitz years of UFC ownership. Further, McCarthy found himself pulled in opposite career directions, trying to balance his police career with a growing involvement in MMA.

In the final phase of LGIO, McCarthy traces the fall-out he had with Zuffa and the UFC. His take is that much of it started over a misunderstanding about travel logistics to an UFC event in London. As a jumbo-sized humanoid, McCarthy asked to be upgraded to business class for the marathon flight from Los Angeles to the UK. By the time this was relayed to Dana White and the UFC brass, they got the impression that McCarthy was holding them up by demanding a first-class upgrade. From there, the relationship frayed. Still, in time, Big John returned to the UFC fold, exited his self-imposed "retirement" and is once again one of the most recognizable features on the UFC/MMA landscape.

McCarthy comes across as an earnest, no B.S. kind of guy, with no taste for bureaucracy or office politics. If you are a UFC or MMA fan, you will enjoy this book. You may never view Big John the same after you read this book and hear him exhort the fighters, "Let's get it ON!"
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2011
Loretta Hunt and John McCarthy have done an EXCELLENT job on this book, which takes you through the evolution of the Ultimate Fighting Championship from its earliest days as seen through the eyes of its most revered official. Clyde Gentry's top-notch "No Holds Barred" used to be my favourite MMA-related book (and it is still required reading for sure), and while it's still superior as a historical text and a fantastic read, LGIO has narrowly edged it out as my overall favourite. Hunt's writing style flowed smoothly, never allowing the narrative to stagnate, while McCarthy's candor and lack of a need to exaggerate his own accomplishments were refreshing. One of the things I've always liked about John is that he has the balls to admit when he's wrong, and when it's appropriate he does so in this book without hesitation. I enjoyed getting a unique look at the MMA world through the eyes of a man who was at once a cop, a referee and one of the sport's primary architects, and finding out why he made many of the the in-the-cage decisions that he made. This man has led a unique and exciting life (including being on the front lines of the Rodney King riots), and I was riveted until the final page. Really, really good work here, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2012
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 is 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 longtime 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 it's 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!"
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A few months ago, when the UFC was first airing on FOX, I went to a TGIFs to have dinner with a few friends. We wanted to watch the fight while we had dinner, and we asked one of the waitresses if she could put the channel on FOX sports. She asked me directly about what sport we were trying to view, and of course I told her that it was mixed martial arts - or, since she seemed to have no clue, I used the misnomer "Ultimate Fighting." She quickly frowned and replied, "That sport is too violent for this family restaurant; we don't show sports like that here," and she walked away. This was in 2011.

This situation gave me a small glimpse into the resistance MMA enthusiats like John McCarthy have had to wrestle (no pun intended) against since the sport's inception in North America in 1993. John McCarthy has been defending the sport since UFC II, and has continuously argued against some of the sport's harshest critics. Yet, with an unflinching belief in the sport, McCarthy has not only defended the sport in front of various athletic commissions and a multitude of critics, but he has moved the sport forward by creating rules, training referees, and opening up a MMA gym.

The book begins with McCarthy's troubles while growing up, which involved some bullying and some frequent street fights. He talks about his stint in power lifting and in bodybuilding. He goes on to discuss his time in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and his first introduction to the sport of MMA. He talks - in candid detail - about training with Rorion Gracie and the early UFCs. Lastly, McCarthy spares no detail in this book. He goes into his falling out with the UFC and his time working for The Fight Network (TFN).

This is undoubtedly one of the best books on the MMA market right now, and any true MMA fan will enjoy reading this book. Give this book a read, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
Whether you are new to the sport or have been following MMA for years, John McCarthy's Let's Get it On! is worth reading. McCarthy has been around the sport since its beginning, officiating his first UFC bout in UFC 2, and he provides a terrific history of mixed martial arts from its human-cockfighting roots in those brutal early UFCs through the dark ages all the way to what it's become today, a sport whose participants are tremendous athletes training in multiple disciplines.

The beginning of the book gives us a description of John's early years and provides colorful stories that would help shape MMA's best known referee. John's life starts meshing with what would become mixed martial arts with the Rodney King riots of 1992. In the wake of the riots the LAPD organized an advisory panel to develop new tactics police could use to apprehend violent suspects. John was on this panel, as was Rorion Gracie. Eventually Rorion invited John to visit the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Torrance, CA, and after getting whupped by skinny Royce Gracie, John began his study of Brazilian jiu jitsu, which continues through this day (John's a black belt now).

You might think you're already familiar with the sport's history, but John has a unique long-term insider perspective, and he's a straight shooter, so there's bound to be new information for anyone who reads the book. You never get the feeling John's holding back (though he doesn't take potshots at anyone), and you can trust that what he says is what he feels. You'll learn what led to his alienation from UFC, and who he blames for it.

One of my favorite things about Let's Get it On! is how it traces the evolution of MMA's rules and regulations, many of which came from John himself. Indeed, John coined the term "mixed martial arts" during a discussion with Jeff Blatnick about the negative connotations associated with "No Holds Barred" fighting; MMA was the term John used on his LAPD work permit form, Blatnick started referring to it as such on broadcasts, and the name became popularized.

In the first two UFCs a ref could only stop a fight due to a KO or if the fighter or his corner gave up. After helplessly watching as a corner refused to throw in the towel when a fighter was getting massacred at UFC 2, John came up with the phrase "intelligently defending himself," which entered the lexicon as a description for when a referee could stop a fight: when a fighter was no longer intelligently defending himself, the ref could halt the action, irrespective of the fighter's or his corner's wishes. John was also responsible for convincing SEG (the UFC's original owners) to institute weight divisions.

One thing I never understood is why knees and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent are prohibited in MMA. The explanation is here. In 2000, New Jersey's athletic commission began looking at MMA. In September of that year it regulated its first MMA event under Commissioner Larry Hazzard, who took special note of knees to the head of a grounded opponent that he had seen that night. When UFC requested to hold events in NJ, the commission agreed, but insisted that knees to a downed opponent's head be illegal. It was a small price to pay for regulation, and that's the origin of the seemingly inexplicable rule. I say inexplicable because knees or kicks to the head of a downed opponent are not especially dangerous compared to legal moves, but it all makes sense since outlawing them was based solely on the impressions of one commissioner who at the time was completely unfamiliar with MMA.)

John also discusses UFC fights he believes were fixed (both occurring before Zuffa purchased the company): Oleg Taktarov vs. Anthony Macias and Don Frye vs. Mark Hall. An interesting and somewhat related tidbit is that Pride asked John to fight against pro wrestler Nobuhiko Takada, but John didn't take the offer seriously after being informed that Pride wanted him to throw the fight.)

There were several other nuggets: Art Jimmerson tapped to Royce Gracie because John scared the crap out of Art beforehand by explaining what could happen when Royce got him on the ground; then NSAC commissioner Lorenzo Fertitta, having come from a boxing background, had a problem with fighters hitting each other on the ground in MMA (Fertitta would come around after training BJJ with John Lewis); John has had to insist that fighters take showers before fights because their body odor was such that he felt it would provide them an unfair advantage (having rolled with some smelly bastards, I've often wondered about this -- you almost want to tap to the stench); and the image of John seeing one of Royce's kids crying at cageside after Royce's losing effort against Matt Hughes.

One thing that becomes clear is what a difficult task refereeing mixed martial arts is. Truly a thankless job, refs make split-second decisions that can affect fighters' careers and -- even more important -- their health. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy and common, but finding that perfect time to stop a fight is often an elusive goal. The refs do the best they can, and it's something to consider before complaining about an unfair stoppage. That being said, John discusses the times he believes he flat-out screwed up. It's happened, more than once, and the best John can do is learn from these experiences.

I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to MMA and I gained a lot of insight from Let's Get it On! I'd recommend it to anyone with more than a passing interest in the sport and its history.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2011
"The propaganda of the victor becomes the history of the vanquished."

The TRUE history of MMA is now available in John McCarthy's "Let's Get it On!" Most everything else is just propaganda. John's incredible life story is the no holds barred (pun intended) history of what really went on in the traveling circus days of the early UFC,followed by its ascent to its current popular status. In typical John McCarthy fashion, he takes every opportunity to give credit where credit is due without being overly critical of those who would have killed MMA in its infancy.

As an extra bonus, John's book objectively details the events in the years surrounding the riots in Los Angeles. Not unlike his service as the best referee in all of MMA, John served as one of LAPD's finest Officers, an Officer that many of us who served in those years actively sought to partner with. As luck would have it, John was "in the right place at the right time," to take his objectivity and consummate professionalism into what would become MMA. MMA as we know it exists because of John's early efforts. Disagree, agree? Doesn't matter, get this book, disregard the propaganda, and read the compelling TRUE history. Thanks John, truth reigns, un-vanquished!

Joe Hamilton
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2011
Thanks to "Big" John McCarthy and Loretta Hunt, the pre-Zuffa UFC history combined with the birth of mixed martial arts has been preserved. You want a history lesson on Mixed Martial Arts? You got it! You want exclusive access to what happened after Dana White and the Fertitta brother's purchased the UFC? You got it! You want more MMA tidbits and funny stories than you can ever remember? You got it!

'Let's Get It On' gives you an inside look Jon McCarthy's upbringing and career as a member of the LAPD before becoming MMA's most recognized referee, in addition to detailing the behind the scenes action starting before UFC 1 in 1993 until his retirement in 2007 and beyond.

This is a must own, not just read - but own, for any MMA fan. When you're through reading this 400+ page account of McCarthy's involvement with the UFC, you will have graduated from TUF Noob to Hardcore Fan.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2011
I just finished the book and the insight and first hand account of the birth and growth of the UFC alone makes this a must read. The book is very well written and you can feel Big John's passion for the sport jump out at you from the pages. I must say learning more about Big John and his experiences with LAPD was also a great treat but the behind the scenes look at early UFC was simply awesome. You will also get great perspective on what goes through the mind of the third wheel in the ring. Big John is very open about his goals and his mistakes inside the octagon.

If you are any type of MMA fan you MUST read this.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2011
Watching the UFC from the beginning, I always wondered about the big guy reffing in the cage they called "Big John". Reading this book, I not only found out about this awesome person, but it was very enlightening about the sport and left me with a satisfied feeling of knowing where and why MMA came about. Any MMA enthusiast would greatly appreciate this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
Big John was with the UFC from day one, and in his memoir he recalls what it was really like at the birth of MMA. In this candid book he shares his experiences in and out of the cage. The book is a must read for any Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)or Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)!

"Big" John McCarthy's memory and ability to relate a story only rivaled by his witty humor and his love for the sport. I recommend this book to all - it is a real page-turner!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
It's Time!: My 360-Degree View of the UFC
It's Time!: My 360-Degree View of the UFC by Bruce Buffer (Hardcover - May 14, 2013)
$19.24


Bar Brawler
Bar Brawler by David Lee Abbott (Paperback - June 20, 2012)
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.