Big John McCarthy talks Palhares/Shields: ‘You’ve got to put responsibility on the referee’

MMAOddsBreaker’s Frank Trigg speaks with mixed martial arts pioneer referee “Big” John McCarthy about the recent World Series of Fighting 22 main event between Rousimar Palhares and Jake Shields, which was broiled in controversy.

The veteran referee, who does multiple seminars and has an extensive school for training MMA referees, broke down specifically what Palhares did wrong in regards to the finish of the fight:

“If you watch the fight. The real problem with what Palhares does is, when Jake takes him down and Palhares goes for the Kimura, he does a really nice job with that Kimura sweep. But the sweep works because Jake knows it’s tight. Jake gives up position, which is telling you as the referee, ‘Oh, it’s tight,’ so you want to put yourself in the right position to help that fighter if it gets to the point where we’re gonna have a tap or we see damage on that hold, we’re gonna stop the fight. And Jake actually taps pretty quick. He taps when he knows not when it’s really to the point where he can’t take anymore, he knows, ‘I’m caught. I’m not getting out,’ and he taps early. And from that point, Palhares takes that hold and he cranks that thing back about 14 more inches and that’s the problem with what we have. If you’re in that position and you’re Palhares, you have a choice. You have that hold and you feel that tap, you can say, ‘I’m gonna hold this until the referee tells me to stop. I’m not gonna let go of it, but I’m not gonna continue to crank it,’ because if I continue to crank it, I’m trying to injure my opponent after he has said, ‘You got me. I’m done. I tap.’ Thats a problem.”

“Big” John also discussed what rules Palhares broke with his refusal to release the Kimura hold and what the referee could have done about it:

“We have two rule violations when it comes to the Unified Rules (of mixed martial arts). We have Unsportsmanlike Conduct because if you’re trying to crank someone after they tap, you’re being an unsportsmanlike prick. Second, we have Flagrantly Disregarding the Direction or Orders of the Referee. When you have the referee saying ‘Stop!’ and you’re not stopping, you’re flagrantly disregarding his command. That is a violation of the rules. Either one of those you can be disqualified for.”

McCarthy also went into detail about what part the referee (Steve Mazzagatti) played in the controversial finish:

“You’ve got to put responsibility on the referee. The referee, you’re there. The fighter’s safety is your number one thing and when you, as an official, have a fighter telling you ‘I’m overwhelmed. I can’t stop what’s occurring and I need help!’ and if you don’t help that fighter at that time, then you’re not doing your job. Your job is to relieve the pressure on that hold.”

Written by Frank Trigg

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